If you intend to employ staff from overseas there are some things that you must be aware of. You need to know what documents potential workers should be able to provide and be able to check them. You will need to find out if your potential employee needs to register with the Worker Registration Scheme or register for authorisation with the Home Office. As an employer of workers from overseas, you are required to store copies of his or her information in an appropriate and safe place.

There are four stages that you must go through to ensure that your potential employee is legally entitled to work in the United Kingdom. This information sheet will describe the four stages.

Obtaining your candidate’s documents

Your candidate must show you documents that prove their entitlement to work in the UK. These can be any of the following:

  • A valid passport that shows that the holder is a British citizen

  • A passport showing that the holder has a right to live in the UK

  • A national passport or identity card that proves that the holder is a citizen of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland

  • A residence permit that has been issued to a citizen of an EEA country or Switzerland (Bulgarian and Romanian nationals may need however to apply for permission from the UK Border Agency before they can work in the UK)

  • A passport or other document issued by the Home Office verifying that the holder has the right to reside in the UK as the family member of a national from an EEA country or Switzerland who is resident in the UK

  • A travel document showing that the holder is exempt from immigration control or has no time limit on their stay

  • A travel document that allows the holder to do the type of work you are offering provided it does not require a work permit

  • An Application Registration Card that has been issued by the Home Office to an asylum seeker stating that he or she is legally permitted to take up employment

If your potential employee cannot provide you with any of the above documents, he or she must give you written evidence of their National Insurance number by showing one of the following original documents:

  • a P45

  • a P60

  • a National Insurance Number Card

  • a document from a Government agency, such as Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, Jobcentre, Social Security Agency)

  • a pay slip from a previous employer

It is important to remember that your potential employee must show a permanent National Insurance Number, rather than a temporary one. A temporary number will typically begin with TN, or end with a letter between E and Z.

Your potential worker can apply for a National Insurance Number at his or her local Jobcentre or Social Security Agency office.

If your potential employee cannot let you have the relevant documents to show that he or she is legally entitled to work in the UK you cannot offer the post until they can. You will also be required by your local Health Trust to delay employing your worker until it is satisfied that he or she is a suitable person to work with a child or disabled or older person.

Examine the documents

All the documents your potential employee gives you must be originals copies will not be acceptable. You may find the following tips useful when ensuring that the documents are genuine.

Photographs - does your potential worker look like the photographs on his or her documents?

Dates of birth – is the appearance of the person consistent with the date of birth he or she claims to have?

Expiry dates – is the document still within any expiry date it may have?

Stamps and endorsements - do the passport stamps permit your potential employee to do the type of employment that you are offering?

Names – do all the documents have the same name on them?

It is important to remember that these documents can prove that worker can legally be employed.

Saving the Documents

When you have checked your potential employee’s documents and you are satisfied that they are genuine, you must save copies of for your records. You can do this in the following ways:

  • By photocopying the documents

  • By scanning the documents into your computer using secure means

If you use a computer to store the copies, you should make sure that they cannot be altered by storing them on a CD-R, for example or using password. You should make sure that the information cannot be altered, deleted or overwritten once you have saved it.

The end of the process

If you have successfully followed the four steps in this process, you will have:

  • Obtained suitable documents from your potential employee

  • Taken reasonable measures to ensure the documents relate to your potential employee and are genuine

  • Saved copies and stored them securely

  • Checked whether or not your potential employee should register with the Worker Registration Scheme and if so, checked and copied the relevant documents for him or her

Having followed all the steps correctly, you will be sure that you are employing an overseas worker legally.

In most cases, the Home Office will register your worker, and send you a copy of his or her registration certificate confirming this. You should retain this copy, which will be issued by Work Permits (UK). It will be printed on secure paper, and will contain the applicant's name, unique reference number, job title, and start date, your name and address as the employer, and the issue date of the certificate. The registration certificate expires on the date that your worker stops working for you.