Employers’ obligation to verify the authenticity of newly hired foreign nationals’ documents

Dear Clients, Dear Business Friends,

We would like to hereby inform you about an interesting ruling of the Municipal Court in Prague (specifically, ruling no. 15 A 152/2019-55 of 29 July 2020), which concerns labor law and provides a lot of useful information, especially for those employing foreign nationals.

In its ruling, the Municipal Court pointed out employers’ current options in verifying the authenticity of the documents of foreign nationals who work for them and also discussed whether or not the use of these tools is mandatory.

According to the Municipal Court, it is necessary to protect the labor market and thus the entire economic system against illegal labor, which puts higher demands on employers as well. Therefore, when hiring employees, a routine visual inspection of their identity cards by the employer’s authorized employee is not sufficient. According to the competent labor inspectorate and the court, the employer in the reviewed case should have made maximum reasonable efforts to prevent the unlawful consequence, i.e. illegal work. Since the region in which the employer operated was known at the given time for widespread use of forged identity cards, the employer should have also used publicly available registers and applications to verify the authenticity of the documents of its newly hired foreign nationals.

The tools that the employer should have used include in particular the PRADO  public register and the publicly available Regula Document Reader application. The register is available, inter alia, in the Czech language and describes the identity cards issued by EU Member States (samples and other information). The application works on the principle of scanning documents and in most cases is able to identify a forged document.

Although the use of these tools is optional, which means it is not required by law and it is up to the employer to use them, employers should take the court ruling and the practice of supervisory authorities into account. It is because supervisory authorities take into consideration the use of these tools when assessing whether or not the employer has made maximum efforts to avoid illegal employment of foreign nationals. The Municipal Court’s ruling also stated that an employer that did not use the register and the application cannot demand exculpation based on the fact that it had made maximum efforts to prevent the offense.

In the case that the employer has no experience with, or knowledge of, the look and parameters of the identity cards of citizens of the country, from which the foreign national to be hired comes, or is in doubt about the authenticity of the presented document, we recommend using one of the aforesaid tools or at least another adequate measure (e.g. requesting not one but two documents) and making a record of such use. This way, the employer can be exculpated of the potential offense of illegally employing foreign nationals, if it is discovered later on that the document in question was forged.

Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The LTA team