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The new rules for Right to Work checks for EEA citizens after July 2021

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Emily Leeming, solicitor in Harrison Drury’s employment law team, takes a look at the changes to rules on Right to Work checks and what action employers need to take.

Many businesses depend on EU nationals to ensure the can staff their business effectively. However, employers are required to make checks that those in their employment have the right to work in the UK.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, changes have been made to how right to work checks for European Economic Area (EEA) citizens must be undertaken.

These changes in right to work checks came into force on 1 July 2021, and employers need to be aware of the changes so that they don’t fall foul of the new rules.

Should an employer fail to carry out the necessary checks, they may be liable for a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per worker, or criminal sanctions.

What are the changes to Right to Work checks?

EEA citizens can no longer rely on using their passports or national identity cards to provide their right to work in the UK, as these have been removed from the prescribed list of documentation.

The majority of EEA citizens residing in the UK will already have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure they secure their right to continue living, and working, within the UK.

On successful application for the scheme, EEA citizens will be granted their immigration status digitally, known as an eVisa, which can be verified through online checks.

This digital status can be used by employers to verify that individuals have the right to live and work in the UK. Alternatively, an EEA citizen may have a physical document which is listed in the List A/B documents to prove their right to work. Further guidance on the documentation needed for Right to Work checks is available on the government website.

What about EEA citizens in current employment?

What will be a relief for many business owners is that these checks only apply to the initial, and repeat, right to work checks conducted on or post July 1, 2021.

There is not a requirement for retrospective checks to be carried out on EEA citizens who were employed with the business prior to this date, providing the relevant checks were carried out at the time employment was commenced and that these checks were in line with the government guidance at the time.

For more information on carrying our Right to Work checks, or any other employment law matter, please get in touch with our team on 01772 258321.


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