You must check that every employee you employ has the right to work in the UK. The penalties for hiring illegal workers are considerable - up to five years in prison and up to £20,000 for each illegal worker, and an unlimited fine if you 'knowingly employed' the person.
An illegal worker is someone who is subject to immigration control, is aged over 16 and is not permited to do the work you want them to do. Illegal workers can include:
- students with expired visas
- people in the UK on a visitor visa
You can employ the following people without restriction:
- British citizens
- Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode
- Nationals from European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland (including Romanian and Bulgarian nationals)
- Family members of EEA and Swiss adults, providing the adult is lawfully residing in the UK
- Nationals from the Common Travel Area
However, you should still check the right to work in the UK of any potential employee claiming the right to work under one of these categories.
You can also find guidance on the documents you can check to prove someone's right to work in the UK on the GOV.UK website.