Top 10 right to work pitfalls and how to avoid them

Right to work is a check required by UK law to ensure that all your potential and existing employees are eligible to work in the UK. The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act now means that a comprehensive list of documents need to be checked, which if not completed can result in onboarding workers who are not eligible and a £20,000 fine for the organisation per illegal employee. Most organisations will have an established process for managing right to work checks, but there are common pitfalls to look out for and it’s good practice to review your process to ensure you avoid them.


  1. Self-service checks – This is when a candidate is given the option to take a photo or scan their documents themselves, then upload them remotely onto your company’s applicant tracking system (ATS).


The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act legislation specifically mentions that the original documents need to be checked by the company while the candidate is present. Be sure to do this in person because if this doesn’t happen, the rest of the check becomes invalid.


  1. Outsourced suppliers – There are companies that will allow you to send right to work documents to them digitally, where they will perform a check for you and confirm if the candidate has a right to work or not.


However, legislation specifically mentions that the original documents need to be checked by the company that is employing the individual. Therefore, by outsourcing, you’re invalidating your right to work checks. The Home Office clearly state in the legislation that the check must be completed by the employing company, so make sure your checks are always done in-house. With our intuitive Right to Work app, your checks can be done in-house and give you peace of mind that you can identify people who don’t have the right to work in the UK. The step by step instructions that pop-up throughout the app tells any user exactly what documentation is required, making sure they capture the correct type of visa and supporting documents to give you a statutory audit.


Hear how this helped our HR Operations and Onboarding Manager roll out the responsibility of conducting the checks to 750 hiring managers at Experian, freeing up the HR teams’ time and simplifying the onboarding journey for candidates.


  1. Scan and send – This refers to instances where the person responsible for the recruitment simply takes the right to work documents from the candidate, makes a copy and sends them off to HR to be checked for validity, without checking them first. The document must be physically checked for validity by the initial recruiter in the company. The reasoning is that a scanned document can’t be validated for whether it feels real or not, or if the security features are present and appear legitimate. Make sure you have a clear process that people understand and follow where documents aren’t sent elsewhere, even within your organisation, to be validated. Our easy Right to Work app gives clear guidance to hiring managers on the process of completing a right to work check. Once checked for validity there is also a clear audit trail of checks for HR teams to refer back to where necessary.

  1. Post-employment checks – In some cases, the need to get a new recruit through the door means the right to work check is left until after the recruit is already working. This is breach of legislation, as the law requires an employee to have a valid right to work check in place before the commencement of employment. This can be done at any stage of the recruitment process, so long as it’s completed before the first day of employment. The Experian Right to Work app can be used at any time prior to employment using a smartphone or device.


  1. Checking copies – If the location where the candidate is being checked/interviewed isn’t suitable to complete the full right to work check, it can be tempting to ask the candidate to bring copies of their documents with them (either with or without the originals). The issue here is that there is no way of determining if those copies are genuine. Even if the physical document seems legitimate, there may be edits on the copies that aren’t immediately clear. Make sure the original copy is always validated. The Experian Right to Work app can help you to complete these checks wherever and whenever. No signal? No problem, as documents are stored securely for several hours after a check until you do.


  1. Correct documentation – We often hear about a common scenario where the candidate turns up to an interview, but all they have with them is their driving licence. Rather than ask them to come back and provide the necessary documents, the recruiter takes the driving licence as acceptable for a right to work check and processes it accordingly.


In this case, a driving licence is not a valid right to work document and the check is invalid. Recruiters should always be knowledgeable of current legislation and which documents to check in any given candidate situation, but our right to work app can help with this. The app will advise when to delete archived checks on employees who have left your business, as required by immigration and the GDPR legislation. For up to date information on what constitutes as a valid right to work document visit


  1. Traceability – Should UKVI Enforcement Officers arrive at your premises unannounced to conduct a spot check (which is part of their remit and standard procedure), they will expect on-demand access to your right to work checks. There’s been a growing number of spot checks being carried out by the Home Office, particularly in sectors with highly changing workforces, such as retail, hospitality, manufacturing and construction. Compliance with legislation requires you to demonstrate a complete audit trail for each check undertaken within your organisation – including details of times, dates and recruiting personnel.

If you think it might be difficult to show a record of this information, then you should look at putting in place a reliable system with a robust and compliant process, that shows a clear audit trail of the checks undertaken. Our checks help you to meet the Home Office guidelines required for a statutory excuse.


  1. Name changes – If a candidate’s name doesn’t match to their documents, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t who they say they are, or indeed that the documents are invalid. It does, however, require that evidence is obtained as to what has changed and when it changed. You can ask for documents such as a marriage certificate or deed poll in order to prove this. The Experian app will tell you exactly what documentation is required for each individual.


  1. Ghosting and imposters – Ghosting in employment is a form of deception when a candidate that starts work is not the person who turned up for interview. In effect, an individual who has a valid right to work allows their identity to be shared by others in order to secure employment. This often happens where the type of work is multi-site or casual shift work, which means the local site manager does not know if the person interviewed (the holder of the documents) is the person who arrived for the shift. With the Experian Right to Work app the local site manager can access the system to view and compare with the original candidate.


Imposter deception is where the candidate is not the holder of the document. Like Ghosting they are sharing genuine documents belonging to someone who looks similar. Facial recognition in the Experian Right to Work app compares the candidate with the document image to combat this. Typically, this is for longer term illegal working.



The practice of ghosting and imposters is not uncommon and is particularly prevalent within sectors characterised by high turnover or casual workforces. Your approach to right to work checks should take account of this risk, so that you can mitigate it.


  1. Poor candidate experience – Often the process of carrying out right to work checks can become far from smooth if you encounter any of the above, or if you need to re-check a candidate’s right to work. When this process isn’t straightforward for the candidate, it creates a negative perception of your brand and you run the risk of losing the talent you want to recruit.


We know just how costly and time consuming it can be to conduct right to work checks, trying to make sure your results are accurate, up to date and are abiding to immigration and the GDPR legislation. Which is why we have created the right to work app. A handy online tool that gives you guidance on completing right to work checks, making it quick and simple for both hiring managers and HR teams. Our app gives you peace of mind that your checks identify the right people and are within the compliance guidelines of UK law.


Want to reduce your risk of falling in to these common pitfalls? Our right to work app has been designed to help do exactly that. For more information click here or contact our team.