Right to work in the UK

8th June 2022 2 min read Rizwana Ishaq

Prior to employing an individual, employers have a duty to carry out certain checks to ensure that the individual has the legal right to work in the UK. Further checks may be required during the course of employment, as necessary, to confirm that the employee still has the right to work in the UK.

Right to work checks are particularly important following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This brought about an end to free movement within the EU and, as a result, EU nationals must now apply for a visa if they wish to come to the UK to work.

It is the responsibility of an employer to ensure that ‘right to work’ checks are properly undertaken and appropriately recorded. In the case of a manual check, employers must ensure that copies of original documents are kept on the employee’s personnel file and that the date on which the check was undertaken is clearly recorded.

Employers who are found to be employing illegal workers can face civil penalties, including fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker. Carrying out the necessary ‘right to work’ checks in the way prescribed by the Home Office can give employers a ‘statutory excuse’ thereby avoiding a civil penalty. Criminal convictions may also be handed down where an employer knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that an employee does not have the legal right to work in the UK.

Right to work checks can be carried out in three ways:

  1. Manually – where an employer inspects physical and original documents and retains a clear record of the same;
  2. Online – using the Home Office’s online checking service: or 
  3. Digitally – whereby identity document validation technology is used to verify personal documentation. 

If you are an employer seeking support regarding employee ‘right to work’ checks and/or what to do if you suspect an employee does not have the right to work in the UK, please get in touch with us here at People Legal. We are experienced in providing business immigration advice and can provide you with the support you need.

Call us on 0800 368 8470 or arrange a chat at for free initial advice.

Please note the information contained in this briefing is intended as a general review of the subject featured and is not a substitute for obtaining specific legal advice.