Here at the Co-op, we take our responsibilities to prevent illegal working seriously. We don’t make any assumptions about who can and who can’t work in the UK, so we ask every person we employ to give us evidence that they’re allowed to work in the UK and to do the work that we’re offering. This includes carrying out follow-up checks when colleagues provide documents that have an expiry date.

To ensure we are complying to all necessary checks, we use a Right to Work (ETW) app, this provides the Co-op with peace of mind around our colleague’s eligibility to work.

Right to Work App

The app is used at interview stage and allows the Hiring Manager to automatically scan the candidate’s documentation on their smart phone or tablet. The App will then provide immediate feedback on the documentation, allowing for the RTW to be date and stamp signed if accepted. Alternatively, if declined the App will ask for additional documentation, or a clearer photograph of the RTW before proceeding. The accepted ETW is then saved within a secure cloud portal. The App has been adapted to operate remotely, RTW documents can be scanned via virtual interview.

The App is used to reduce any possibility of illegal working, as there are some serious consequences for Co-op and our managers if we don’t get these checks right. We face a £20,000 fine if we employ an illegal worker and haven’t checked the documents required by the Home Office. It’s also a criminal offence for our managers if they knowingly employ an illegal worker. That could result in up to 5 years in prison and an unlimited fine for them. So, it’s important for everyone that we get this right.

If the colleague’s right to work is time-limited, the App will notify our onboarding team 8 weeks before the expiry date, this information will be passed onto the manager who requests up to date documents. The manager can then re-scan the colleague’s correct documentation.

ETW1 – Email reminder

After receiving a reminder email from the onboarding team, the manager will ask the candidate to organise an updated ETW documentation. Once sourced, the candidate will provide the manager with up to date documentation, which can then be scanned on the App and stored within the cloud portal. This process will automatically update the colleague’s working status.

Click here for more information on the Right to Work App.

ETW4 – Invitation to investigation

If the colleague hasn’t provided their new documents by the time there’s 4 weeks to go before their current ones expire, HR Services will send their manager an email with an investigation letter attached – ETW4 (below). Managers need to fill in the details for the investigation meeting and give the letter to the colleague. The investigation meeting should happen within a week of getting the letter – so with 3 weeks to go before the colleague’s documents expire.

Investigation Meeting

The purpose of the investigation meeting is to find out what the colleague is doing to get documents that show a continued right to work in the UK. There’s more information about holding an investigation meeting in the Disciplinary Process If managers need more advice they can call ER Services.

After the investigation meeting managers need to update HR Services so they know what’s happening. They can use this email template to get in touch with HR Services. Managers in Insurance need to complete the webform.

ETW6 – Invitation to disciplinary meeting

After the investigation meeting, if the colleague hasn’t provided their new documents, their manager will need to invite them to a disciplinary meeting using letter ETW6 (ETW7 if it needs to be rescheduled). These letters can be found below. The disciplinary meeting should happen within a week of the investigation meeting – so with 2 weeks to go before the colleague’s documents expire.

Disciplinary meeting

At the disciplinary meeting we should try to find out why the colleague hasn’t provided the documents we’ve asked for, and what they’re doing to get them. There’s more information about holding a disciplinary meeting in the Disciplinary Process. If managers need more advice they can call ER Services.

If the colleague hasn’t provided the documents we’ve asked for, managers can serve them with notice of conditional dismissal. This means that their employment with Co-op will end on the date their current documents expire, unless they give us documents that show their right to work in the UK will continue. This notice of conditional dismissal will apply across all roles held in the Co-op.

ETW8 – Disciplinary outcome

The outcome of the disciplinary meeting needs to be confirmed to the colleague in a letter.

ETW8 (below) confirms that we’ve decided to serve them with notice of conditional dismissal and the date this will happen if they don’t provide the documents we’ve asked for.

Either ETW9 – Confirmation of dismissal

On the date that the colleague’s current right to work expires, if they haven’t provided the documents we’ve asked for then managers should give them letter ETW9 (below). This confirms that their employment in all roles with Co-op has ended on the grounds that they have failed to provide evidence that they have the right to work in the UK. They won’t get any further notice or pay in lieu of notice. The letter explains their right of appeal.

Managers should then contact HR Services to ensure that the colleague is processed as a leaver.

If the colleague has more than one job at the Co-op, the primary manager should advise the other managers to ensure the colleague is processed as a leaver for all their roles.

Or ETW10/ETW11 – Confirmation of continuing employment

If at any time between giving the colleague letter ETW8 (above) and the date that their current documents expire, they provide the documents we’ve asked for, managers will need to carry out a check on those documents – see the Follow-up Checks section below.

If those documents confirm the colleague has made an in time application, appeal or administrative review, but not yet received the outcome then managers need to give the colleague letter ETW10 (below) which confirms that we’ve received their documents and we now have 28 days to confirm the details with the Home Office Employer Checking Service.

If the manager receives a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office, confirming the colleague’s right to work in the UK, then managers need to give them letter ETW11 (below) which confirms that their employment with Co-op will continue.

Follow-up Checks

If the colleague provides documents to show that their right to work in the UK will continue managers need to check those in the same way as when they were first hired.

Managers must check the original document(s), that they’re genuine and belong to the colleague. Check that;

  • photographs and the dates of birth are the same in all the documents and they seem right for the colleague
  • expiry dates for permission to be in the UK haven’t passed
  • any work restrictions allow them to do the work we’re offering. If the colleague is an international student with limited permission to work, managers must also obtain and copy details of their term time and vacation dates
  • the documents look genuine, haven’t been tampered with and belong to the colleague
  • the reason for any difference in name across the documents are supporting by other documents – like an original marriage certificate, divorce decree absolute or deed poll. These must be copied as well.

Applications and appeals

If the colleague’s made an application, appeal or administrative review, but hasn’t received a decision from the Home Office yet, they can give us any of the following documents to show this;

  • A copy of their application, appeal or administrative review and a proof of date of postage
  • A dated confirmation letter from the Home Office that their application, appeal or administrative review has been submitted
  • A Home Office or appeal tribunal reference number and a proof of date of postage

Just so it’s clear, we don’t accept letters from the colleague’s solicitor any more.

Managers then need to send these documents to HR Services who will contact the Employer Checking Service to confirm that the colleague has made a valid application or appeal. Managers should not do this directly. We have 28 calendar days to do this and receive a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office. The colleague can continue working during this 28 days.

If at any point in the 28 calendar days HR Services receive a Negative or an Amber Verification Notice, they will contact the manager who will need to speak to ER Services urgently for advice – see the sections below on Negative and Amber Verification Notices.

Scan to submit

When managers have checked the document(s) they must scan a clear copy of each one using the Right to Work app, the manager will then sign the app to evidence the date.

Managers must scan:

  • Passports
  • All other documents: in full, including both sides of a Biometric Residence Permit, Application Registration Card and Residence Card (biometric format)

Positive Verification Notice Expiry

If Co-op have already got a Positive Verification Notice which confirms that the colleague has the right to work, this will be valid for 6 months.

When there are 5 weeks remaining on the Positive Verification Notice, HR Services will email managers to remind them to speak to the colleague to confirm that the reference number on the Positive Verification Notice hasn’t changed. Managers should then contact HR Services to let them know the reference number. HR Services will then contact the Home Office’s Employer Checking Service.

If the Home Office confirm that the colleague has a continuing right to work, they will send us another Positive Verification Notice. Managers should send the colleague letter ETW16 (below) to confirm. If the Home Office send a Negative or Amber Verification Notice, managers should follow the process below for Negative/Amber Verification Notices.

Negative Verification Notices

If we get a Negative Verification Notice back from the Home Office, this tells us that they don’t have any records that the colleague has made a valid application or appeal.

Managers must contact ER Services for advice, and follow the Disciplinary Process. They should suspend the colleague and carry out an investigation (ETW12). Managers then need to invite the colleague to a disciplinary hearing (ETW13, ETW14 if you need to reschedule). If the manager decides to dismiss the colleague, this will be without notice or pay in lieu of notice (ETW15). All letter templates are below.

Amber Verification Notice

If we get an Amber Verification Notice back from the Home Office, this tells us that they can’t confirm or deny whether the colleague currently has the right to work. The reason for this will be listed on the Notice.

Managers must contact ER Services for advice about what to do next.