Failure to produce evidence of the right to work in the UK is a potentially fair reason for dismissal

The Employment Tribunal has held in the case of Baker v Abellio London that it will be fair to dismiss an employee if they fail to submit evidence of their right to work in the UK.

The employee, Mr Baker, was working in the UK after moving from Jamaica.  Mr Baker’s Jamaican passport had expired, and, although he did apply to renew it, he didn’t obtain an endorsement. This meant that he didn’t have the relevant evidence to show he had the right to work in the UK.

The Home Office advised his employer, Abellio London, that the passport alone – without the endorsement – would not be sufficient to confirm his right to work in the UK.

Abellio London had lent Mr Baker £350 to assist him in obtaining the relevant documents he needed.

The Employment Tribunal concluded that Abellio London had been right to require evidence of his immigration status.

As Mr Baker failed to provide evidence, and failed to attend a meeting with his employer, at which the risk of dismissal would have been discussed, Abellio London was left with no choice but to dismiss him. The ET agreed that a satisfactory procedure had been followed. His dismissal could be deemed fair.

The Tribunal acknowledged that if a UK employer does not obtain appropriate evidence of an employee’s right to work in the UK, they could be fined up to £20,000 or face criminal liability. Therefore, Abellio could have suffered liability if they had not taken the action they did.

It is important to remember that, while failure to provide evidence of the right to work in the UK may be a reason to fairly dismiss, in this case, the Tribunal considered the procedure the employer had followed. Abellio had adequately investigated Mr Baker’s immigration status and warned him of the risk of dismissal. They also gave the employee an opportunity to obtain proof.