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Right to Work Checks: Large Fine Increases on The Way for Employing Illegal Workers

November 2023

As of January 2024, the maximum civil penalty for employing an illegal worker will be increased from £20,000 to £60,000. In respect of a first breach, the penalty for employers will increase from £15,000 to £45,000 per illegal worker. The Home Office has advised that it also intends to consult on strengthening sponsor compliance action where illegal working is found.

Employers can obtain a statutory excuse against liability for an illegal working civil penalty by carrying out right to work checks in line with Home Office guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checks-employers-guide. In order to minimise risk, employers should ensure staff are properly trained in carrying out such checks and carry out regular audits of right to work documentation.

The Home Office has recently clarified its guidance on right to work checks as follows: 

  • In respect of British and Irish passport holders, employers need to see workers’ original passports, make sure it looks like the person, and take copies for their records. 
  • For any other nationality, an online check must be carried out. Most individuals will be able to provide a share code which employers can enter into the government website. This will tell the employer if the person has the right to work, along with any restrictions or deadlines on their permission.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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