Check if a new employee has the right to work in the UK

Multiple legal rights documents showing someone has the right to work in the UK

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 a sizeable fine for each illegal worker, and an unlimited fine if you 'knowingly employed' the person.

Maximum penalties for employers tripled in 2024 to £45,000 for their first breach and £60,000 for subsequent breaches.

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 and Irish citizens
  • you have pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme - or you’ve applied and you’re waiting for a decision
  • you have a family permit from the EU Settlement Scheme
  • you have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK
  • you have right of abode in the UK

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.

Students with a visa are only allowed to work a limited number of hours. You should check the student's immigration documents.

Check if someone can work in the UK >>

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.

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