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Right to Work Checks

Right to Work Checks

Right to work checks are a legal requirement that UK companies must carry out, regardless of size. The law states that a right to work check must be undertaken before employment begins for every new recruit, regardless of ethnicity or the type of role they are working in.
In May 2016, the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent and is now known as the Immigration Act 2016. It introduced new sanctions on illegal workers, rogue employers and landlords; provided better co-ordination of regulators that enforce workers’ rights; prevent illegal migrants in the UK from accessing housing, driving licences and bank accounts. The Act also introduced new measures to make it easier to enforce immigration laws and remove illegal migrants from the UK.

The Act also places the onus on the employer to check that all their employees have the necessary documents to prove their right to work in the UK. This year the Home Office has increased the fines and prison sentences for employers who fail to carry out the necessary checks or employ illegal workers.

Individuals may well be legally entitled to work in the UK, but if Companies are audited by the UK Borders Agency and cannot show that the necessary right to work checks have taken place, there will still be a heavy fine. Current fines are up to £20,000.00 per employee!

The ability to work illegally is a key driver of illegal migration; it encourages people to break the UK’s immigration laws and provides the practical means for migrants to remain unlawfully in the country. It encourages them to take risks by putting their lives in the hands of unscrupulous people smugglers and leaves them vulnerable to exploitative employers. Illegal working results in businesses that are not playing by the rules, undercutting legitimate businesses that are. It also negatively impacts on the wages of lawful workers and is linked to other labour market abuse such as tax evasion, breach of the national minimum wage and exploitative working conditions.
What is a Right to Work Check

A right to work check is where an employer checks an acceptable document which is listed on the Home Office website ( By opening this hyperlink, you can download the checklist and start your check. By using this checklist for each of your employees, you will be able to prove that you have met your legal obligations and avoid being fined.

If anyone is worried that they have not carried out checks on their workforce before, then it’s never too late. Make sure you do not put yourself at risk of a fine, carry out checks as soon as you can. Ring for guidance if you’re not sure how to approach your staff and we can help you. If you do carry out checks and your staff cannot provide the necessary documents, then please call us as soon as possible so we can advise you on the correct procedure to follow.

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