CHANGES TO IMMIGRATION CHECKS

ALLOW ONLINE RIGHT TO WORK CHECKS

Organisations have a duty to prevent illegal working and, in order to do so, carry out ‘right to work’ checks on their prospective employees to gain a statutory excuse against liability under the civil offence. This check is conducted using documentation provided by individuals, with the government’s three-step checking process requiring copies to be made of these documents. For certain documents provided, organisation will also be required to carry out a follow-up check as their statutory excuse will be time-limited.

Introduced in April 2018, organisations could use the Home Office’s online right to work checking service, alongside receiving the statutory documents, to carry out their right to work check. With effect from 28 January 2019, organisations can rely solely on the online service to carry out right to work checks, without receiving any documents from the individual. The document checks will continue to apply however where the individual’s immigration status cannot be checked online.

To gain the statutory excuse using the online service, organisations will have to:

  • use the service for each individual and only employ, or continue employing them, where the online check confirms they have the right to carry out the work in question
  • be satisfied that the photograph on the online check is consistent with the appearance of the individual
  • retain and keep a clear copy of the online check response for the period of the individual’s employment and for two years after. This can either be held electronically or in hardcopy.

Where the online checking service is used to employ students, organisations will still require details of academic term dates. Additionally, a follow up online check will have to be carried out in advance of a time-limited statutory excuse expiring.

Where the online right to work check is negative, ie it shows that the individual does not have the right to work in the UK and/or to do the work in question, the organisation will not gain the statutory excuse against civil liability where they employ, or continue to employ, the individual. Where right to work checks cannot be carried out online, such as where there is an outstanding application, appeal, or review with the Home Office, organisations will continue to be required to contact the Employer Checking Service to receive a Positive Verification Notice, providing a six-month statutory excuse.

Additionally, from 28 January 2019, organisations are no longer required to receive full birth and adoption certificates from UK nationals when carrying out document checks. The List A documents have been updated to allow UK individuals to provide their prospective employer with either full or short-form certificates, alongside an official document containing their National Insurance number, to establish a continuous statutory excuse for the length of their employment. This change is aimed at making documentary checks easier for UK citizens who do not have a passport.

Employment Legislation for April 2019

April is a fairly busy time for HR professionals and business owners alike. Are you fully prepared for legislative changes that could impact your business. This is a time when new rules come into force, so you need to be prepared and you need to take action.

Here’s what you need to know:

Increase in National Minimum Wage rates

From April 2019 the minimum contributions for auto-enrolment pension schemes will increase for both employers and employees. Currently, automatic enrolment requirements mean that employers must contribute a minimum of 2% of an eligible worker’s pre-tax salary to their pension pot, with the individual contributing 3% themselves. However, under the new requirements, employers and employees will now have to contribute a minimum of 3% and 5% respectively. 

Both the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will increase in April 2019. Under the new NLW, the minimum hourly rate that workers aged 25 and over are entitled to will increase from £7.83 to £8.21. At the same time, the NMW rate for workers aged between 21-24 will increase from £7.38 to £7.70 an hour; the rate for 18-20 year olds will increase from £5.90 to £6.15 an hour and those over compulsory school age but not yet 18 will experience an hourly increase from £4.20 to £4.35. The minimum rate for apprentices will also increase from £3.70 an hour to £3.90 an hour, providing the apprentice is under the age of 19, or 19 and over but in the first year of their current apprenticeship.

Settled Status for EU nationals

Auto-enrolment contributions

European workers currently living in the UK will be able to apply for settled status in 2019, allowing them to remain indefinitely in the UK following the end of the Brexit transition period in 2021. To be granted settled status individuals must be able to prove they have been living in the UK for 5 years by the date of application. Those who do not meet this requirement can apply for temporary status, allowing them to remain until they have accrued enough residency to be granted settled status.

Payslips

Changes to the way employers issue payslips will come into force on 6th April 2019 as from this date onwards the legal right to a payslip will be extended to include those who are recognised as workers. Employers will also be obliged to include the total number of hours worked on payslips for employees whose wages vary depending on how much time they have worked. 

Parental bereavement leave and pay

The government has confirmed that it intends to introduce a right for bereaved parents to take paid time off work. Under the current proposals, bereaved parents will be able to take leave as a single two-week period, as two separate periods of one week each, or as a single week. They will have 56 weeks from their child’s death to take leave.

The new right is expected to come into force in April 2020, but employers should start preparing for it during 2019. You could decide to introduce your own bereavement leave policy if you don’t already have one.

CEO pay gap reporting

New legislation will also come into force this year that requires companies with more than 250 employees to publish their executive pay gap. Although the first reports are not expected until 2020 businesses should be calculating the necessary figures throughout 2019 to show the gap between the total amount paid to their CEO and the average pay for an employee.