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The right to work in the UK

14th Jul 2016

Large Group of Business People Standing and Looking up at CameraIn the second half of 2015 over £21 million penalties were issued to employers in the UK for hiring illegal workers. And now the Immigration Act 2016 has introduced even tougher sanctions on illegal working.


Even if you have just one employee you can’t ignore the law. You could face a civil penalty of up to £20,000 if you haven’t carried out the correct right to work checks.

Illegal workers include:

  • students with expired visas, or students working more hours than they’re allowed to
  • people who work on a visitor’s visa

You must check that employees are allowed to work for you in the UK before you take them on; it’s your responsibility.


Ask to see original documents such as a UK passport or Document Certifying Permanent Residence.

Checklist of suitable documents


Check that the documents are genuine and that your prospective employee is allowed to do the work you’re offering.


The documents will need to be copied, dated and kept safely to prove that you’ve carried out checks.

If you want to take on a student you’ll need to obtain and keep evidence of the student’s academic term and holiday dates.

Helpful information

An employer’s guide to right to work checks

Check if someone can work in the UK

Checklist of suitable documents

Employing someone to work in your home

If you need further help call the helpline on 0300 123 4699.