As an employer in the UK, ensuring that your employees have the right to work in the country is a crucial legal responsibility. Failing to comply with immigration laws can lead to severe penalties and reputational damage for your business. This post will guide you through the essential steps to verify an employee’s right to work in the UK, providing you with peace of mind and legal compliance. Whether you’re a small business owner or an HR professional, these steps will help you navigate the process smoothly.


Understanding the Legal Requirements for Right to Work

Before you start the right to work checks, familiarize yourself with the legal requirements set by the Home Office. As an employer, you must conduct checks on all prospective employees to ensure they have the right to work in the UK. This includes British citizens, EEA nationals, and non-EEA nationals with valid work visas.


Requesting Appropriate Documents

During the hiring process, request relevant documents from the employee to prove their right to work in the UK. Accepted documents include a passport, biometric residence permit, or national identity card for EEA nationals. Non-EEA nationals should provide a valid visa or residence permit.


Checking the Documents

As an employer, you are responsible for verifying the authenticity of the provided documents. Carefully examine the documents to ensure they are genuine and belong to the employee. Look for signs of forgery or alterations.


check the right to work status in the UK


Retaining Copies of Documents

Make photocopies or scans of the original documents and retain them securely. Keeping these records will prove that you have conducted the right-to-work checks as required by law. Ensure you store these documents in line with data protection regulations.


How to check the visa status

If you need to verify someone’s immigration status and possess their ‘share code,’ this service is your go-to solution. The share code is a unique identifier that will have been emailed to you or provided by the person whose status you intend to check. It is important to note that the share code expires after 90 days. Additionally, you’ll be required to have the person’s date of birth handy.

You can check the visa status on the government’s link, here:


Conducting Regular Follow-Ups

The right to work checks are not a one-time process. If an employee has a time-limited visa or work permit, set up a reminder system to conduct follow-up checks before the document’s expiration. This will ensure your employees continue to have the right to work in the UK throughout their employment with your company.


Penalty for Employing Illegal Workers

In the UK, employers can face significant fines and penalties if they fail to conduct right to work checks or hire employees illegally. The fines are imposed under the Immigration Act 2016 and can vary depending on the severity of the violation, as follows:

  • Civil Penalty: If an employer is found to have hired an employee who does not have the right to work in the UK, they can receive a civil penalty. The fines for this offence can range from £15,000 to £20,000 per illegal worker.
  • Criminal Offense: In more serious cases, employers may be prosecuted for knowingly hiring illegal workers. If found guilty, they could face an unlimited fine and up to five years of imprisonment.
  • Compliance Orders: In addition to fines, employers who repeatedly breach right-to-work rules may receive a compliance order from the Home Office. This order requires the employer to take specific actions to improve their right to work checks.
  • Business Closure: In extreme cases of non-compliance, the Home Office can issue a closure notice, effectively shutting down a business that continues to employ illegal workers.

It’s essential for employers to take right-to-work checks seriously and ensure they follow the correct procedures to avoid severe consequences.


The right to work checks. Seeking Professional Advice

The process of verifying an employee’s right to work in the UK can be complex, especially when dealing with international hires or individuals with unique immigration statuses. It’s beneficial to seek guidance from an experienced accountant or immigration specialist to ensure you comply with all legal requirements.



Verifying an employee’s right to work in the UK is a crucial aspect of your payroll and HR responsibilities. By following these steps and staying informed about the latest immigration regulations, you can ensure legal compliance and protect your business from potential risks. If you need expert assistance or have questions about right to work checks, our team is here to support you. Visit our Services page and see how we can help you navigate the complexities of payroll and workforce management.


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