30th July 2013



 Issue No.  2013/14




We have had a number of queries recently regarding what evidence employers can accept to prove an employee or prospective employee is entitled to work in the UK.  We thought an update would be a timely recap on this.

Since 1997 employers have had a responsibility to check that their employees have the right to work in the United Kingdom by carrying out checks during the recruitment process. The simplest approach for employers is to ask for sight of one of the following “secure” documents:-

  • UK Passport
  • EEA Passport and National Identity Card
  • UK Residence Permit

If no secure document can be produced the employer can as an alternative check and take copies of two documents from the following groups:


  • An official document bearing a National Insurance Number along with a full birth certificate, a letter from the Home Office or an Immigration Status Document.
  • Work Permit along with either a Passport or a letter from the Home Office confirming that the holder has permission to enter and remain in the UK and take the work in question.

It is worth noting that the Government has announced a consultation to consider proposals to help business by:

  • reducing the list of acceptable documents for right-to-work checking purposes, eliminating older and less secure documentation which is vulnerable to forgery, and working towards the use of biometric residence permits for right-to-work checks for most non-EEA nationals
  • replacing annual follow-up checks for non-EEA nationals with checks to coincide with the expiry of permission to be in the country, and
  • simplifying the operation of the scheme and the guidance for employers.


Since 2008, there has been a civil penalty scheme that imposes a sanction on those who employ illegal workers. Employers could be fined up to £10,000 for each illegal worker.  The Government’s consultation is also to consider proposals to toughen the civil penalty scheme including:

  • increasing the maximum penalty from £10,000 to £20,000 per illegal worker, targeted at employers who repeatedly break the rules
  • simplifying the way civil penalties are calculated
  • simplifying the way unpaid penalties can be enforced in the civil courts, and
  • introducing measures to allow recovery of a civil penalty from directors and partners of limited liability businesses following failure to pay by the business.

The consultation closes on 20th August 2013. Reforms are expected to be included in the Immigration Bill later this year and introduced through secondary legislation in early 2014.

The consultation can be viewed on the Home Office website:


Sentient clients can check their Employment Guidance Manual for more details or of course ring us for unlimited support in this area.

If you want to become a Sentient client then please call us on 08456 446006 or leave a message on our website contact page.





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The advice and comment in this update is not meant to be an authoritative statement of law. The articles and summaries should not be applied to any specific set of facts and circumstances without seeking further advice. Whilst every care is taken to ensure that the content is correct Sentient cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of statements made nor the result of any actions taken by individuals after reading such.

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