UK Immigration Rules and Share Code Right to Work Checks


Changes to business immigration rules and why employers need to conduct share code right to work checks in order to make sure that their employees have valid immigration status.

The Home Office requires all employers to check that their employees have the right to work in the UK. Until recently this meant that employers would have to manually scrutinise an employee’s immigration documentation.

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This is no longer the case and employers can now use a share code to verify an employee’s status on the Home Office website. Proper use of the share code means that an employer will be safe from prosecution even if it turns out the employee did not have the right to work in the UK.

What Are Share Codes?

Share codes were introduced in July 2019 to simplify the process of checking an employee’s right to work. Since Brexit, UK employers are no longer able to rely on European passports for eligibility checks and so the Home Office provides this streamlined system.

The share code is a nine character alphanumeric code which an employee should provide to their employer. Using the code and the employee’s date of birth an employer can go onto the Home Office website and check if their employee has the right to work in the UK. 

What Can a Share Code Tell an Employer?

The share code will open a page with the following information about an employee:

  • The types of job an employee is eligible to undertake in the UK
  • How long is the employee eligible to work in the UK (indicating when an employer needs to re-check the employee’s status or terminate contract)
  • What kinds of social welfare benefits an employee is entitled to receive in the UK, namely health care
  • Is the employee allowed to open a UK bank account

How Can an Employee Acquire The Share Code?

The employee will need to create an account on the Home Office website and then enter one of the following: 

  • a biometric residence permit number
  • biometric residence card number
  • passport number
  • national identity card number

The employee will then have to state why they would like a share code which in this case is entitled ‘prove your right to work to an employer. The appropriate share code will then be issued on that basis. 

How Can an Employer Stay Protected With Share Codes?

The share code will be valid for 90 days and can be used as many times as necessary within that period. 

The employer is not able to rely on the information which is available on the employee’s Home Office page. They need to access the ‘view an employee’s right to work page’ in order to acquire a statutory excuse from penalties. They should also check that the photo of the employee corresponds with the person who is physically working for them. If a reasonable effort to detect an imposter is not made by the employer they will no longer have statutory protection from liability.

The employer should then keep evidence of the employee’s right to work. This can be in the form of a pdf document or a physical printed copy.

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What if an Employee Cannot Provide a Share Code?

There will be some instances in which an employer will be obliged to check a candidate’s papers manually or perform checks with the Home Office.

A prime example would be members of the Windrush Generation but there are several other instances where a share code is not available.

Please note that it is inappropriate and considered discriminatory to refuse an application based on the unavailability of a share code despite the practicality it offers an employer.

How Can Gulbenkian Solicitors Help

Illegal work is firmly linked to illegal immigration in the UK. As such, the Home Office places heavy fines of up to £20,000 on any business owners who are found to be in contravention. Our team of business immigration Lawyers London are also speciailist in UK employment law and can help you navigate all aspects of both of these legal areas to ensure that your actions are fully legally compliant with the most up to date UK laws. If you are considering employing or already employ non-British citizens in your workforce then you should consider legal advice on how to stay fully protected from liability. Alternatively, if you have already noticed some impending irregularities in your employees’ status then our team at Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors will help you understand how to remedy these issues.

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At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.

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