Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) are biometric immigration documents that are issued to all non-EEA nationals who have been granted permission to stay in the UK for more than 6 months. Employers and their HR staff must familiarise themselves with these documents as they will only have a statutory excuse if they have carried out the right to work checks correctly.
If your employee has been granted permission to enter the UK for more than 6 months from abroad, they will first be issued with a vignette (sticker) in their passport which will be valid for 30 days. This enables them to travel to the UK and following their arrival, they will have 10 days to collect their BRP from the Post Office branch detailed in their decision letter.
The Home Office encourages migrants to collect their BRP as soon as they arrive in the UK but in the event your employee is required to start work before they get the chance to do this, you will need to ask to see the visa vignette and carry out the prescribed document checks on this. However, as the visa vignette is only valid for 30 days, the check will have to be repeated using the BRP for the statutory excuse to continue.
So, what do you do if your employee doesn’t provide you with the BRP within the 30 days? The Home Office’s guidance indicates that employers are not required to terminate employment immediately where they believe the employee continues to have the right to work.
However, you should bear in mind that once the 30 days has expired, you will not be able to establish a statutory excuse if it transpires that the employee is working illegally. You will also not know when the employee’s permission to work expires. Without the BRP, an individual will have no evidence of their right to be in the UK and their right to work here. They will also not be able to travel in or out of the country.
In addition to this, if a migrant does not collect their BRP from the Post Office, they would be in breach of the regulations requiring them to collect it and the Home Office has the power to take out a number of sanctions against the individual including a civil penalty or ending their permission to be in the UK.
On a final note, when carrying out biometric residence card checks, employers should carefully examine this document to ensure it is not false. If an employee provides a false document and it should have been obvious to the employer that the document was false, the employer could still be liable for a civil penalty.
Further information on Biometric Residence Permits and how to check them in line with the right to work guidance can be found here.