Recruitment advice, job seeker support and company news

The Reason Recruiters Ask To See Your Passport

9th October 2023

by Emma Rutherford

There’s only one reason a recruiter asks for your passport. It’s an important reason that has nothing to do with checking your overseas holiday destinations and everything to do with complying with the law.

Why Recruiters Perform Right-To-Work Checks

It boils down to this, everyone who wants to work in the UK must be legally eligible to do so*. It’s important that right-to-work checks are carried out for every work-seeker to comply with equality and immigration law, and to ensure candidates are eligible to work before an offer of employment is made.

A passport is a convenient way to prove your work status for UK and Irish citizens. If you do not have a passport (or Irish passport card), you can prove your right to work with one of the following:

  • a UK birth or adoption certificate
  • an Irish birth or adoption certificate
  • a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

You must also provide an official letter or document from a previous employer or a government agency that shows your name and National Insurance number. For example, you could use a letter from HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions or the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland.

There is a common misconception that a driving licence is suitable to prove you can work in the UK – unfortunately, all it proves is you can legally drive a car!

If you’re not a British or Irish citizen, you can prove your right to work with:

Who is Responsible For Checking A Job Seeker’s Eligibility To Work In The UK?

It is an employer’s obligation to check a person’s right to work; candidates will sometimes query why, as a recruitment agency, we ask them for this information.

We act as intermediaries between job seekers and employers. We help employers find suitable candidates who meet all legal requirements, including the right to work. Verifying eligibility upfront saves employers time and effort during the hiring process.

In circumstances where we are introducing temporary workers to our clients, we are deemed to be the employer and the legal responsibility lies squarely with us to check eligibility.

What Happens To My Personal Information?

Keeping a record that eligibility checks have been performed is essential to evidence best practice and due diligence. Failure to do so could have repercussions including reputational damage and fines. At TMM Recruitment a digital copy of your right-to-work documentation is stored on our secure servers in compliance with data protection legislation.

At the end of your job search, you can request that your data be deleted, or you may choose for it to be safely retained for the next time you’re job searching. In line with data protection law and our privacy policy if we’ve had no meaningful contact with you for 5 years all your personal data is deleted from our systems.

Overall, asking for proof of eligibility to work documentation is a crucial step in the hiring process to ensure compliance with the law, prevent illegal employment, and maintain fairness and transparency in the recruitment process.

*Section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 makes it the employer’s obligation to check an individual’s right to work in the UK.

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