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Who needs a right to work check?

All potential employees require a right to work check, regardless of their nationality. This must be conducted before employment/work commences.

For those individuals who hold a visa permitting them to live and work in the UK, there is also a requirement to undertake a further check at the point that permission expires. Further guidance on this can be found in the visa expiry section.

Please note our seperate right to work statements for visitors and volunteers.

You do not need to carry out a right to work check in the following circumstances

  • Under any circumstances, an existing employee who was employed before 1 May 2004;
  • An existing employee who is moving departments within the University;
  • A returning employee where there has not been a break in service (a ‘break’ is defined as being more than 7 days, which must include a Saturday and a Sunday);
  • A visitor to the University where engaged for less than 30 days in a six month period;
  • A volunteer at the University where engaged for less than 30 days in a Term;
  • A worker whose right to work was taken by the Temporary Employment Service (TES) or when they were registered on the Cambridge Casual Worker System (CCWS), as long as they have not been made a leaver/issued a P45 (it is the Department's responsibility to check this).

If you are unsure, please check our guidance (link above).

Why do we need to do checks?

Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and the Immigration Act 2016, the University has a legal responsibility to ensure that all employees have the right to work in the UK. It is a criminal offence to employ someone if an employer is aware or has reasonable cause to believe the worker has no right to work in the UK, punishable with unlimited fines and/or imprisonment. Checks on right to work must be carried out for every person the University intends to employ regardless of their race, ethnicity or nationality before they begin any work. If we do not comply with our duty to ensure our employees have the right to work in the UK, there are serious penalties for non-compliance:

  • On-the-spot fines of up to £45,000 for each illegal worker employed.
  • A maximum five year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine if you know, or have "reasonable cause to believe", that an employee is not entitled to work in the UK by virtue of their immigration status.
  • Down-grading the University's sponsor licence, with subsequent timed action plan to regain fully compliant status. The University would not be able to sponsor any individuals under the Skilled Worker or Temporary Worker GAE visa routes during any period when our licence is downgraded, or
  • Withdrawal of the sponsor licence, with the consequence that all sponsored individuals would have to leave the University.