How to avoid discrimination when checking Right to Work

Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

How to avoid discrimination when checking Right to Work

  • 12 Jun 2020
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    James Waby, Screening Consultant

  • News archive
  • It is important that employers avoid discrimination when checking candidates’ right to work status. Right to work checks must be carried out on all prospective employees, regardless of their nationality. Employers who are selective about who they carry out right to works checks on are at a higher risk of falling foul of race discrimination laws.

    Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against because of their race can bring a claim, regardless of whether it’s against an employer, a prospective employer or an employment agency. If the complaint is upheld, the penalties can be unlimited.

    Create a fair recruitment process

    During the recruitment process, job applicants are protected against discrimination that relates to their protected characteristics. In this case their race and ethnicity, but also including age, disability, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity etc.  Read the Home Office’s Code of Practice for more information.

    Make sure you are creating a consistent, transparent and non-discriminatory recruitment practice by considering the following:

    • Right to work in the UK should be a standard part of the recruitment process.
    • Ensure that right to work checks are applied to all job applicants and at the same stage in the recruitment process.
    • Never make assumptions about someone’s right to work in the UK based on their race, ethnicity or accent.
    • Inform all job applicants that they will need to supply original documents to confirm their right to work in the UK.
    • Ensure that prospective employees understand that employers are legally obligated to carry out right to work checks.
    • Don’t assume if an applicant is unable to produce acceptable documents that they are working or living in the UK illegally.
    • Monitoring diversity details of applications during the recruitment and selection process is good practice and can be used when reviewing the recruitment process.
    • Job applicants who produce acceptable documents showing a time limited right to work in the UK should be advised that further right to work checks may be carried out as per right to work in the UK legislation.


    After Brexit, there will potentially be more employees who will need ongoing right to work checks. The new immigration system starts on 1st January 2021, at which point people moving to the UK to work will need to get a visa in advance. EU applicants applying for a skilled worker visa will need to  show a job offer from an approved employer sponsor.  Read UK’s new points-based immigration system on GOV.UK.

    How Access can help

    Access Right to Work is an easy to use mobile app and cloud-based management portal. In less than five steps it confirms an applicant’s eligibility to work in the UK, as well as storing proof of compliance. 

    Access Right to Work can help save time and costs, as well as improving the candidate experience.

    Download our Right to Work FAQs.