Important Changes to UK Right to Work Checks
On September 30, 2022 the UK rules around right to work checks will change. Here’s what productions need to know about carrying out compliant right to work checks for production crew in the UK beyond this date.
What is a right to work check?
Under the Home Office requirements, each crew member must provide acceptable proof of their right to work in the UK using one of the prescribed documents.
Following Brexit, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals can no longer rely on their EEA passports or ID cards for right to work purposes. Instead, they must complete an online right to work check confirming that they hold either:
- A valid visa that permits employment; or
- Pre-settled or settled status.
What’s changing about right to work checks?
In March 2020 the UK government introduced temporary concessions to allow right to work checks to be carried out remotely in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under these concessions, employers can accept scanned copies or photos of original documents and confirm their validity via video call with the worker.
These concessions will expire on September 30, 2022.
How do you do a right to work check?
By completing a compliant right to work check, productions will establish a statutory defense against illegal working. Starting September 30, 2022, right to work checks can be conducted in one of three ways:
- In person as per the “traditional” right to work process (for British and Irish nationals only);
- Using an Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service provider (for British and Irish nationals with a valid passport only); or
- Online via the Home Office’s right to work checking service.
In-person checks (for British and Irish nationals only)
If completing a right to work check in person, you must:
- Take a copy of each crew member’s right to work document; and
- On that copy, expressly record that the crew member’s right to work documents have been checked, the name of the person completing the check and the date the check was carried out (eg, "I confirm that I have reviewed the uploaded documentation and that it is sufficient proof that this person has the right to work. Confirmed [date/time] by [name]").
This document must be kept for the duration of the engagement plus an additional two years.
If using an IDVT provider or the Home Office’s online checking service, you must check that the photo on the IDVT ID or online right to work check document is of the individual presenting themselves for work (ie, the information provided by the check relates to the individual and they are not an imposter).
Although it is considered good practice to also record the date of the follow-up check for record-keeping purposes, this is not mandatory and a right to work check will be considered compliant as long as the follow-up check has taken place.
Who can do a right to work check?
Right to work checks must be carried out by a person at the hiring company on or before the crew member’s first day of engagement in the UK (so temporary or agency staff, external agencies and legal representatives can’t complete them on your behalf).
Right to work checks for biometric card holders
Holders of biometric residence cards (BRCs), BRPs and frontier worker permits (FWPs) must use the Home Office online service to evidence their right to work.
- BRCs are provided to non-EEA family members of an EEA citizen.
- BRPs are provided to individuals who hold a valid UK visa for longer than six months and to permanent residents with indefinite leave to remain status.
- FWPs are provided to EEA nationals who are resident outside the UK but have been economically active in the UK since December 31, 2020 or earlier to evidence their right to work to an employer.
As of April 6, 2022, these individuals must use the Home Office online service to evidence their right to work. Employers can no longer accept the physical cards as right to work evidence and BRCs, BRPs and FWPs have been removed from the list of acceptable documents used to conduct a manual right to work check.
Impact of getting it wrong
If an employer is found to have impermissibly employed a worker, it may receive a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per non-compliant worker and lose the ability to sponsor work visa applications for foreign nationals. Company directors may also face criminal convictions if they do not comply with the new guidelines.
How EP can help
The EP Production Portal helps you to track whose right to work has been confirmed and get everything in order before anyone steps on set. Send reminders to those who need to upload their documents and set up alerts to complete your checks as soon as they do.
To help with right to work compliance, the Production Portal captures the name of the reviewer and the date and time of the review. And because crew upload their right to work documents directly to the platform, you maintain a secure audit trail even after you wrap.
For more information on contracting crew in the UK, see Getting Your Crew Contracts in Place: A guide for UK productions.