This case concerned a Mauritian national who came to the UK as a work permit holder in 1992 but was refused further leave to remain following an application submitted in 1997. As the applicant lodged an appeal to the refusal decision, the Home Office sent her a letter confirming her right to work in the UK until the appeal was determined.
The Mauritian national began working for the NHS as a healthcare support worker and provided her employer with a copy of the letter from the Home Office confirming her right to work. In December 2006, following receipt of an anonymous letter claiming that the Mauritian national did not have a right to work in the UK, the NHS commenced enquiries with the UKBA checking service to ascertain further information about her immigration status. As the UKBA was unable to confirm her immigration status, the NHS terminated the Mauritian national's employment following a disciplinary hearing. The Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that as the UKBA could not confirm that the Mauritian national did have a right to work in the UK, and as a result the NHS had a genuine belief that she was not entitled to work, they were entitled to dismiss her.
Even though the letter sent by the UKBA checking service contained standard wording, every case is fact specific and such letters should therefore not be routinely relied upon to justify termination of employment. If employers do find themselves with similar circumstances to this case, expert advice should be sought before any decisions in relation to termination of employment are made.