Co-founder and CEO Unizest
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Share codes for migrant workers
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Share codes for overseas workers: What does HR need to know about them?

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For those who choose to start a new life in the UK, being able to demonstrate immigration status is critical. Share codes are an easy way of doing this, but are often overlooked or misunderstood. So what does HR need to know about them?

25th Oct 2021
Co-founder and CEO Unizest
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Want to apply for a job? Looking to rent a room or property? Need to open a UK bank account for wages to be paid into? For an overseas worker, being able to prove their immigration status quickly and easily to employers, recruiters, landlords and financial services providers through a share code is the key to unlocking those doors. 

The trouble is, share codes can be misunderstood, miscommunicated, or simply unheard of

But it’s a lack of understanding of how to use share codes that is holding up the entire process. HRs and recruiters are losing time and money - even losing great candidates as a result of these kinds of delays. Given the record-breaking one million job vacancies currently in the UK, HRs and recruitment agencies will no doubt look to minimise any disruption to their hiring processes. 

What is a share code?

Share codes are a relatively new UK government initiative that enables non-UK nationals to quickly and easily demonstrate their right to work to future employers using online generated alpha-numerical codes. 

HR professionals will be well-versed in the need for right to work checks - especially those working in industries that rely on overseas labour and hires from the EU and EEA. The share code system - in place since 2019 - should in theory ease the pressures of paperwork, eliminate the potential for fraudulent behaviour, and speed up the process for both busy HRs and candidates eager to get to work.

The trouble is, share codes can be misunderstood, miscommunicated, or simply unheard of - and as a result, are not necessarily making right to work checks any easier. Until everyone understands how to use them, businesses, HRs and non-UK nationals will continue to experience this painful pinch point when onboarding new hires or applying to UK-based jobs. 

A lack of understanding

As an organisation that works very closely with recruitment agencies, we hear regularly from professionals in this industry who are frustrated by the lack of knowledge and communication around the service. As Neil Capper at Taylor Martin Recruitment explains: “The problem we are faced with is that some overseas workers find it difficult to create a share code, and to understand why they need one or how to use it.”

Employers can no longer accept an EU, EEA or Swiss passport as evidence of a person’s right to work in the UK

Some aspects of the share code process may require a more confident English speaker; made more complicated by the fact that share codes are described in a number of different ways across gov.uk - using phrases such as ‘view and prove your immigration status’, ‘demonstrate right to work’, or simply ‘prove your status’. 

Just last week, my team took a call from a Nigerian man who needed to evidence his immigration status, but had never heard of a share code. Once the process was explained to him, he was very happy to go ahead and use one - rather than provide paperwork evidence of his status.

Millions more people need to use share codes

Lack of knowledge of share codes is not only having an impact on those international hopefuls looking to start a new life in the UK. 
As of 1 July this year, new immigration rules also apply to the 3.5 million EU and EEA citizens already residing in Britain.

Employers can no longer accept an EU, EEA or Swiss passport as evidence of a person’s right to work in the UK - meaning that any time an EU citizen applies for a new position in a UK-based role or company, the employer must check their immigration status and right to work using a share code. A penalty of up to £20,000 per person can be applied to employers who fail to make the proper checks in accordance with new law post-Brexit. 

A quick guide to using share codes

  1. Eligibility

Anyone who is not a UK national, with settled or pre-settled status, or has applied for an immigration status using the ID check app, can prove their immigration status with an online generated share code. Rules differ for those individuals with a passport vignette. 

  1. Logging in

​Candidates must input their details into the UK government’s online system in order to view their immigration status. To do this, they will need the ID they used when first applying for a visa - either a passport, birth certificate or a biometric residence permit. A six digit security code will be sent to the applicant’s phone - they will need to enter this in order to access their immigration status. 

  1. Generating a share code

Once logged in, the candidate will be able to view their immigration status, below which is the option to ‘prove your status’. This link will bring up a second page that enables the candidate to generate a share code. They will first need to select a box explaining why they need a share code - such as demonstrating their right to work.
The following page will produce a snapshot of what a potential employer will be able to view - candidates must again select the option to ‘create a share code’. 

Imagine the business hours that could be reclaimed if employers felt more confident using share codes?

  1. Sharing with an employer

​A nine digit, alpha-numerical code will be generated which candidates can then give to an employer, alongside their date of birth, in order for right to work checks to be completed online.

HR is leading the way

Imagine the business hours that could be reclaimed if employers felt more confident using share codes - or the stress and pain that could be removed from that process for candidates just looking to start a new job?

The best action that HRs could take today, would be to develop their own understanding of share codes - perhaps with a trusted partner such as Just Good Work - and to begin to build accessible, simple and downloadable resources that guide non-UK hires through the right to work process. 

HRs are perfectly placed to not only support their colleagues and new hires through what is currently a rocky and confusing process of demonstrating right to work - but also to lead the way in digitising and simplifying the process of right to work checks. 

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