Employers have a responsibility to prevent illegal working in the UK by ensuring that all employees have theright to work lawfully in the UK. The Home Office has published a draft code of practice relating to the prevention of illegal working, which will replace the previous code of practice issued in February 2008. The new code was expected to come into force on 16 May 2014 and includes the following changes:

  • Abolition of annual checks – in addition to the document checks that must be carried out before an individual commences employment, employers currently have to carry out repeat annual checks for employees who have temporary permission to work in the UK for a limited period of time. The new code will remove the annual checking requirement and employers will in future be required to carry out the additional checks when the employee’s permission to be in the UK and do the work in question expires.
  • TUPE – employers will have a “grace period” of 60 days following a TUPE transfer to carry out their own right to work checks. Under the current rules, such checks must be carried out within 28 days of the transfer.
  • Changes to the list of acceptable documents – the new code will reduce the list of acceptable documents to prove that an employee has permission to work in the UK. Employers should ensure their policies are updated to reflect this.
  • Students – in relation to students with a restricted right to work in the UK for a limited number of hours per week and during holidays, the new code will require employers to request a copy of the student timetable from the educational establishment that is sponsoring the student and retain this on file.
  • Civil penalty – the code provides for a revised method of calculating civil penalty levels, including an option for payment by instalments, and provides for a 30% reduction in the penalty for early payment