Right to work in the UK

The law preventing illegal working is set out in sections 15 to 25 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (external website). Under the Act, the council has a duty to prevent illegal working by carrying out document checks to confirm if a person has the right to work in the UK.

Employers are liable for fines of up to £20,000 or face other legal action for negligently employing an illegal worker.

Recruiting manager responsibilities

Recruiting managers have a formal responsibility under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 to ensure that all prospective employees are not employed illegally. It is the responsibility of the recruiting manager to ensure that successful candidates do not commence employment until these checks have been carried out.

  1. All shortlisted candidates are asked to bring their right to work in the UK documents with them to interview.
  2. At interview, the recruiting manager must check, take copies of the original acceptable documentation and then sign and date all copies. The documentation for the successful candidate(s) only must then be sent to Human Resources with the appointment form and recruitment file. Recruiting managers will need to shred any copies of the unsuccessful candidate’s documentation. Human Resources will place the documentation on their personal file.
  3. To avoid any claims of racial discrimination, recruiting managers are to check the documentation for all candidates and follow point number 3 above. Assumptions should not be made on whether a person has the right to work in the UK based on their appearance, accent or background.

The 3 step process

Step 1

You must ask for and be given an acceptable document or combination of documents. You must only accept original documents.

Step 2

For each document you must:

  • Check any photographs are consistent with the appearance of the person;
  • Check any dates of birth listed are consistent across all documents and that you are satisfied that they all match up with the appearance of the person.
  • Check that the expiry dates of any limited leave to enter and remain in the UK have not passed.
  • Check any UK immigration endorsements to see if the person is able to do, or can continue to do, the type of work you are offering.
  • Satisfy yourself that the documents are genuine, have not been tampered with and belong to the holder.
  • If you are given two documents which have different names, ask them for a further document to explain the reason for this.

Step 3

You must take and retain a copy of the document, in a format which cannot later be altered.

You must take a photocopy of the relevant pages of the document. In the case of a passport or other travel document you must photocopy:

  • The documents front cover and any page containing the holder’s personal details. In particular you should copy any pages that provide details of nationality, their photograph, date of birth, signature, date of expiry or biometric details.
  • Any pages containing UK immigration endorsements showing that the holder has permission to be in the UK and has the right to carry out the work in question.
  • You must sign and date the copies taken.
  • These copies will need to be sent to HR to be stored on personnel files for the successful candidate.

Checking a job applicant’s right to work documents

GOV.UK guidance on checking a job applicants 'right to work' documents (external website).

Where to send photocopied documents

The recruiting manager must send the checked, signed and dated copies of the successful candidate’s documents to Human Resources which will be placed on their personal file. Unsuccessful candidate’s documentation should be confidentially shredded by the recruiting manager.

Prospective employees will not be able to commence employment until the required documentation has been checked, copied, signed and dated. Offers of employment are subject to evidence that the prospective employee has the right to work in the UK.

Eligibility to work in the UK

A person does not need a permit to work in the UK if they are any of the following: