Everything You Need To Know About Illegal Employment

In this article we are first going to explain the necessary procedure an employer needs to follow to avoid illegal employment penalties, before taking on a new employee in order to properly verify their legal status with regards to working in the UK, this will be aided with links to official documentation. We are then going to outline the penalties for the employer if found to be employing someone illegally and not having carried out and recorded the necessary checks in accordance with the law. Finally, we are going to end the article with a succinct conclusion.

Following Procedure

Before employing someone, a thorough three step “right to work” check must be carried out on them. The “right to work” check consists of first obtaining the potential employees relevant original documentation. Secondly, of checking this documentation against a detailed checklist while the potential employee is present. Third and finally, of making and retaining a clear and fully readable copy of all documents as well as making a note of the date and location of the check.

The official government guide titled “An Employers Guide To Right To Work Checks” contains detailed information on the whole three step procedure, and there is a thorough explanation and breakdown of the above paragraph on pages 11 to 17 of the guide. Further, a detailed list of documentation that is acceptable from the employee can be found here, and a handy official checklist for each stage of the three step procedure can be found here.

Finally, an overall full list of relevant official government guides and documentation regarding verifying a potential employee’s right to work in the UK can be found here.

Penalties For Non-Compliance

If you are caught employing one or more illegal workers, you will receive a referral notice to let you know that your case is being considered and following that you may receive a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal employee. However, it is crucial to note that you will not have to pay the civil penalty if you can satisfactorily prove you made the necessary “right to work” checks (discussed above) to the fullest extent and in accordance with the law.

If a civil penalty is issued however, you will be given a “civil penalty notice” with 28 days to reply. The notice will provide you with details on the civil penalty including payment options as well as information on the appeals procedure. It’s important to note that you can be sent to jail for up to two years and be the recipient of an unlimited fine if you employ someone who you know is working illegally.

You can find out more about the penalties of employing someone illegally by following this link.


We hope this article has been useful in informing you about the procedure to be followed to ensure a potential employee is able to work in the UK legally as well as the penalties for hiring someone illegally. We strongly recommend you seek out the correct and official documentation, guides and advice from the official Gov.uk site if you are unsure about anything regarding employing someone legally in the UK or anything else mentioned in this article.