This article discusses the Employer Checking Service (ECS), an invaluable resource for employers who want to ensure they are employing migrant workers legally and responsibly. The ECS is a government service designed to help employers verify the immigration status of their employees when they cannot provide valid right to work documents due to ongoing applications or appeals with the Home Office.
The Importance of the ECS
It is crucial for employers to understand the significance of the ECS for their employees and their families, as well as the potential repercussions if proper checks are not conducted:
- The ECS allows migrants to continue working legally in the UK while their immigration application is being processed. Without their employment, they may face financial hardship and debt, particularly if they lack access to public funds. This situation not only affects them but also their families.
- The ECS can serve as a safeguard against exploitation of migrant workers. When employers perform these checks, they enable their employees to maintain their legal employment status. In the absence of these checks, employees may risk losing their jobs and being compelled to seek employment with unscrupulous employers who may take advantage of their lack of documentation confirming their immigration status.
- The ECS contributes to ensuring that employees are not subjected to discrimination in the workplace. By providing employers with a means to verify the immigration status of their migrant workers, the ECS promotes a level playing field for all employees.
The ECS not only safeguards the rights of migrant workers but also benefits employers by protecting them and their employees alike.
What Information Do You Need?
To use the ECS, you’ll need specific information about the migrant worker in question. Here’s a checklist of the required details:
- Migrant Worker’s Information:
- Full Name
- Date of Birth
- Job Details:
- Job Title
- Number of Hours Worked per Week
- Contact Information:
- Home Address in the UK
- Home Office Reference:
- This can be any one of the following:
- Home Office reference number
- Case ID
- Home Office application reference number
- BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) document
- Passport number (current or expired)
- Any tracking reference number
How to Make a Request?
You can submit your request to the ECS online through the official website here. It’s a straightforward process that allows you to help ensure compliance with immigration laws.
What Happens Next?
After submitting your request, the Home Office will typically respond within 5 working days. If the Home Office confirms that the employee has an outstanding application or appeal, they will issue you with a Positive Verification Notice (PVN). This PVN is crucial and serves as proof of your compliance with immigration laws. Keep in mind that a PVN is valid for 6 months, so make sure to schedule a follow-up check before it expires if you wish to retain your statutory excuse.
Document Management and Record-Keeping
As an employer using the ECS, it’s essential to maintain meticulous records:
- Keep a copy of the PVN.
- Safeguard the employee’s original documents.
- Make a record of the date you made the ECS request.
- Make a note of the date the PVN expires. Good practice would be to put a remainder 2 weeks before the expiry so you can apply for a new PVN if necessary.
These records are vital to prove your adherence to immigration laws and to ensure your organization remains compliant.
Here are some essential points to remember when using the ECS:
- Eligibility: The ECS is exclusively for migrant workers who cannot provide valid right to work documents because they have an ongoing application or appeal with the Home Office. It’s not a general verification tool.
- No Guarantee: Using the ECS does not guarantee that your employee will be granted leave to remain. It merely confirms the status of their ongoing application or appeal and their current right to work.
- Rejected Applications or Appeals: If your employee’s application or appeal is rejected, you may need to do a further check. Please contact us to discuss next steps.
Contacting the Home Office
If you have any questions or require assistance regarding the ECS, you can reach out to the Home Office through the Employer Enquiry helpline:
- Telephone: 0300 790 6268
- Operating Hours: Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4:45pm; Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
Knowing your rights as an employer when it comes to verifying the immigration status of your employees is crucial for staying compliant with the law. The ECS is a valuable resource to help you navigate this process responsibly and ethically.
This information was correct at the date of publishing.