Right to Work in the UK – Fines for illegally employing someone are set to triple! What do you need to do?

Did you know that if you’re found guilty of employing someone who does not have the Right to Work in the UK (this includes workers from the EU) you can be:

  • Required  to pay a civil penalty (fine) of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker – In 2024 this is going to increase to £45,000 for a 1st breach and £60,000 for repeat offences.
  • Sent to jail for 5 years.
  • Your business’s details may be published by Immigration Enforcement as a warning to other businesses not to employ illegal workers.

What do you need to do?

  1. If you don’t already have Right to Work documentation on file for each member of your team, you need to rectify this ASAP. The documentation is your defence should it be alleged that you are employing someone illegally.
  1. Before employing an individual, you must check their Right to Work in the UK status and keep a copy of the check(s) on file. 

How to complete the checks

UK applicants If the individual doesn’t have a British passport (that’s the easiest way to prove their Right to Work), they can provide: 

  • A birth or adoption certificate issued in the UK, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number and their name, issued by a government agency or a previous employer. 
  • Other valid documentation options are listed here: Employers’ right to work checklist – GOV.UK
  • You should take a copy of their Passport and / or any other documents for your records, in accordance with the Steps and Guidance below.

Non-UK applicants

  • To complete the check, you will need to input their Share Code and Date of Birth into this website Check a job applicant’s right to work: use their share code – GOV.UK and download a copy of the results to store on file. 
  • You should take a copy of their Passport and any other documents for your records, in accordance with the Steps and Guidance below.

Step 1 CHECK: You must see the original documents, in person, not via email, photo etc.

You must check that:

  • the documents are genuine, original and unchanged and belong to the person who has given them to you; and
  • photos are the same across all documents and also look like the applicant; and
  • dates of birth are the same across all documents; and
  • if 2 documents give different names, the applicant must provide supporting documents showing why they’re different, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree; and
  • expiry dates for permission to be in the UK have not passed; and
  • the applicant has permission to do the type of work you’re offering (including any limit on the number of hours they can work); and
  • for students, you also need evidence of their study and course vacation times.

Step 2 COPY: You must make a clear copy of each document in accordance with the procedures below and retain the copy documents securely ie electronically or in hardcopy. 

Copying Documents  (General)

You must:

  • make a copy that cannot be changed, for example a photocopy; and
  • make sure the copy is clear enough to read; and
  • write the date that you saw the original on the copy document (this should be no later than the date that the individual started working for you); and
  • record that this is the date on which you conducted the check and that it is a true copy of the original; and
  • sign the document; and
  • write your name next to your signature.

For Passports:  You must copy any page with the expiry date and applicant’s details, for example pages containing nationality, date of birth, photograph, signature, immigration permission, expiry date, biometric details and any page containing information indicating the holder has an entitlement to enter or remain in the UK (visa or entry stamp) and undertake the work in question.

All other documents: You must copy the document in full, including both sides of an Immigration Status Document and an Application Registration Card.

Follow-up checks

If your employee’s right to work in the UK is time-limited, you’ll need to check their documents again when their right is due to expire.

Further information on Right to Work in the UK checks can be accessed here: 

Check if a document allows someone to work in the UK – GOV.UK

Checking a job applicant’s right to work – GOV.UK

Penalties for employing illegal workers – GOV.UK