New right to work checks do not apply to many recruitment businesses


Immigration is back in the headlines and closely linked to
this is the right to work in the UK. To identify people genuinely entitled to
work here from those that may not be, this year in May and July the government
issued a raft of guidance notes and codes on the steps that need to be taken by
all employers, including the requirement for face to face checks of potential

However there is and always has been a gaping hole in this
policy. The clue is in the word “employer”. The obligation does not apply to
anyone who is not an “employer”, so hirers are not employers if they engage
workers who are not employees. There are no rules for these hirers at all. Recruitment
businesses which engage temporary agency workers are also not employers if the engagement
contracts they use are not employment contracts. Since the latter model is
typical in the UK recruitment industry it would seem that the right to work
checks do not apply to those recruitment agencies.

Having said that, it should be noted that UK recruitment
businesses that supply temps have to check the identity of the workers and any
authorisation that the hirer considers necessary or is required by law, before
the worker is supplied. This regime, included in agency regulations,
fortunately does not require face to face meetings. This remains a source of
relief for agencies that engage workers who live far and wide, since face to
face meetings are simply not practical in those circumstances.

“The conclusion”, says Theresa Mimnagh of the recruitment
law and compliance consultancy Lawspeed “is that there is a lack of consistency
in right to work checks dependent on the type of contract used, which some less
scrupulous businesses may take advantage of. Best practice for recruiters would
be to carry out the checks in any event.”

For more advice or information on right to work checks call
Lawspeed on 01273 236236.

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