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Get it Right - the Right to Work

Skilled Trades & Labour, Training, Safety Critical Labour...


As a company that takes our responsibility of checking right to work seriously, I’m always surprised when recruitment professionals join 1st Step and have not previously received any sort of training on checking right to work documents.  Many companies seem to accept whatever is given to them, or take the opinion that this is the responsibility of intermediaries or sub-contractors as individuals are not directly engaged by them.  However, at 1st Step we make it our business to safeguard ourselves and our client’s by checking every individual who is engaged on one of our projects.

Indeed it also amazes me how many candidates present outdated documents which still allow them the right to travel, but no longer provide evidence of the right to work, and yet they have not been challenged or advised that they need to update their documents.

Over the last few years, we’ve come a long way from stamps in passports, which weren’t very clear to understand and difficult to verify.  Now, whilst not particularly well publicised, there are some useful tools available to employers from the home office, including;

  • Full and comprehensive guidance documents and checklists
  • A basic “sanity check” step by step web guide, talking you through what has been presented and whether that person needs additional documents to prove their work.
  • A biometric verification service allows the candidate to share details of their biometric online, confirming the individuals status and enabling you to cross-reference with the documents collected.
  • The Employers Checking Service, which allows you to check the current status of an outstanding application and establish if you have a statutory excuse whilst this is ongoing. This service will normally give a response within five working days.
  • Employers Helpline for any anomalies and exceptions to the rules (and annoyingly there are still some of them)


Our first line of defence is our recruiters and everyone at 1st Step is given training on the importance of checking right to work documents, how to check them, and when to refer them to the compliance team.   Our compliance team act as our safety net and have a comprehensive understanding of the tools available to them and what to look for when checking documents. Where there is any doubt, they will not hesitate to pick up the phone to the Employers Helpline to seek further guidance.  

Candidate Support

Where candidates have presented out of date documents, often because they were unaware that these are no longer acceptable having been allowed to travel and gone unchallenged by other employers, our compliance team will still go out of their way to educate the candidate, correspond with their solicitors if necessary and provide them the information and contacts they need in order to provide the relevant evidence.  We also ensure that any candidates working for us are given reminders and any support required where their documents are approaching the time for renewal.

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