Right to Work Check Changes

Right to Work Check Changes

From 1 July 2021, the way employers carry out right to work checks on EU, EEA and Swiss national employees will be changing.

Following the end of the freedom of movement between the EU and UK, the UK has implemented a new immigration system based on treating applicants equally, regardless of their nationality. Instead, potential employees will now be required to prove their right to work via their immigration status.


Up until 30 June 2021, employers can continue to check EU, EEA or Swiss citizens’ right to work in the current way; that is by either using their passport or National Identity Card.

Employers will still need to ensure that they have the correct sponsor licence to employ EEA and Swiss nationals, which came into force at the beginning of this year.

What is changing?

Depending on the visa type, the requirements and permissions will apply but applications will be dealt with on a points-based system. Employers will also require a sponsor licence to hire workers outside of the UK.

If an employer is looking to recruit a Skilled Worker from outside of the UK, they need to prove the following:

  • There is a job offer from a licenced sponsor
  • The employee speaks English at the required level
  • The job is of a skill level of A-level of above
  • The employee will be paid the higher of at least £25,600 or the ‘going rate’

Employers may still be able to employ EU, EEA or Swiss citizens even if the job is not classed as Skilled, for example if there is a job offer in a shortage occupation. In order to do so, the salary must be at least £20,480 and the applicant may be able to trade points on specific characteristics against the reduced salary.

A key point to note is that the amendments to the right to work checks do not apply to EEA or Swiss citizens already in employment in the UK; only those who will be recruited from 1 July 2021.

What you need to do

If you are thinking of recruiting from outside of the UK then it is vital that you have checked whether you need to obtain a sponsor licence from the Home Office and crucially, whether new employees have the right to work in the UK.

You may already employ foreign nationals who could have the right to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. They only have until 30 June 2021 to do this so it would be worth encouraging them to apply if they are eligible.

As with the previous right to work checks, it is important that you have stringent procedures in place to ensure that you do not inadvertently employ someone illegally as the consequences of doing so can include hefty penalties and a criminal conviction. All records of right to work checks and evidence should be kept for two years post-employment.

If you would like any advice on how the new system could impact your recruitment, then please contact a member of our employment law team on 01752 663295.

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