The rules surrounding prospective employees’ Right to Work changed on October 1st, as the previous checks brought in for the Covid lockdown came to an end here in the UK.
That means employers will no longer be able to verify if someone is eligible to work in the UK simply by checking their passport over a video call.
But what exactly will that mean to the employers of South East Wales?
As Rowena O’Sullivan, Head of Skills & Talent for Venture, explains, it could mean a great deal:
Don’t miss out on hiring international talent
“Our message is don’t get it wrong on the Right to Work – or you could miss out on hiring some of the best talent available to your business” says Rowena, who heads up the Graduate Recruitment Service as well as broader programmes under the Venture umbrella.
“The new rules represent a real change in the recruitment process – and potentially a significant change to the availability of talent – for employers in our Region. And for those who embrace the change properly, there’s the potential to attract and hire work-ready talent of many different skillsets.” says Rowena.
“The good news is that businesses have a choice in the way they perform a Right to Work check – through a ‘manual’ right to work check, or a face-to-face check with the candidate that uses the service of an Identity Service Provider (IDSP); or taking up the option of using an online right to work check through the Home Office.
“The bad news is that the change in legislation has come when many businesses – especially the small and medium-sized enterprises that make up most of the Cardiff Capital Region economy – are tackling the pressures brought about by rising costs, and sometimes an increased bureaucracy due to the UK leaving the EU.
“So there may be the temptation to see going through the Right to Work as too much trouble – or some employers may simply get it wrong in the way they hire international talent, and find themselves in real trouble.”
The Global Talent Visa for Digital Tech
“We’re seeing some incredible international students apply for the various roles available on the Venture Graduate Recruitment Programme, which is available for free to any employer in the Cardiff Capital Region. It’s clear that employers in the CCR have an amazing opportunity to attract talent – especially the digital tech talent that can be enabled through the UK Government’s Global Talent Visa scheme and is available at www.technation.io/vis” explains Rowena.
“This scheme empowers employers to offer roles to internationally-based leaders and potential leaders in digital tech – in industries that include artificial intelligence, cyber security, fintech and gaming.
“The skillsets hired can be technical – a developer, engineer or data scientist, for example – or a business/commercial expertise gained in software, hardware or process data.
“The scheme is geared for short, medium and long-term employment, enabling the candidate to choose the length of their visa, up to a five year period – and allows the candidate to become an employee, a director of a company, or self-employed.
“What’s more, there are no language or minimum salary eligibility requirements – and after a qualifying period, the employee can apply to settle permanently in the UK, with ‘indefinite leave to remain’.”
The Scale-up Worker Visa
Fast-growing businesses also have the option to recruit international talent as a Scale-up Worker, as Rowena explains:
“Our region is increasingly becoming a centre for scale-up enterprises – and those employers also have the option of recruiting key skills from international talent pools, to meet their needs as a fast-growing business.
“Candidates for these roles will need to prove their ability to speak, read, write and understand English when they apply for any role – and can stay in the UK with a Scale-up Worker visa for two years, which can be extended by three years indefinitely as long as they still meet the eligibility requirements – and the candidate can apply to settle permanently in the UK after five years.
“So there are a number of pathways employers can pursue to attract the international talent that can help future proof or transform a business.”
Half of UK businesses unprepared for the new rules
Nicola Somerville, Head of Economic Development & Inclusive Growth for the Cardiff Capital Region, offers some practical insights on the hiring situation in the CCR:
“Our Venture Graduate Recruitment & Development Programme is experiencing an increased number of applications from international graduates – people with amazing skills and a great work ethic, who could deliver so much value to the employers of the Region. So we’re committed to giving the best advice to employers on tapping into this great talent pool.
“It’s sobering to think that almost half of businesses are unprepared for the new rules, according to one of the government-certified IDSPs. 78% of employers are unaware they could face unlimited fines or up to five years in jail if found to be non-compliant.
“There’s also a lot of misperceptions on the subject, such as the wrongly held belief that a DVLA-issued driving licence is proof of right to work, when that has never been the case.
“Conducting right to work checks is free of charge, unless an employer uses the service of an IDSP. Many SMEs may not use an ISDP because of the costs involved – so Venture has prepared a 10-point Checklist to help employers ensure they get it right on Right-to-Work.”
The Venture 10-point Right-to-Work Checklist
Conduct your Right-To-Work checks on new hires at the earliest opportunity upon making a conditional offer and well before a new employee starts.
If possible, arrange for a new employee to come in before their first day – to meet your team and also bring the essential documentation needed for a Right-to-Work check.
- The Home Office requires you to obtain original documents from one of two lists. The first list is the candidate’s passport, immigration status document, birth or adoption certificate, or certificate of naturalisation in the UK. The second list refers to documents showing your candidate’s application to remain under immigration rules. The full lists are available at gov.uk.
- Verify and make copies of the essential documents. It’s your responsibility to check that documents are genuine and that the prospective employee is the person presenting them – so you need to check that photographs are consistent across all documents and that they match the person’s appearance. Make copies of those documents in a format that can’t be manually altered – and securely store the dates of when those copies were made.
- Double-check the details. Look for any evidence that the documents have been tampered with – and check any potential anomaly. Are there any differences in names across the documents that can’t be explained (e.g. by marriage or divorce?). Have the expiry dates for permission to be in the UK passed?
- Make sure you carry out follow-up checks on any employee with time-bound visas.
- Ensure your team is trained to understand what process needs to be followed when hiring.
- Create a guideline on how to conduct the Right-to-Work checks – have a protocol that everyone in your team adheres to.
- Update your onboarding processes to reflect the new rules.
- Include the Right-to-Work clause in employment contracts, so that the employment relationship can be terminated if an employee doesn’t have the correct immigration permission to undertake the job in question.
If you feel you need help from an external IDSP, the UK government has a list of providers able to conduct the checks for you.