Right to Work Checks – Doing it the Right Way


Right to Work Checks in UK

Employers in the UK are under a statutory obligation to ensure that they only employ workers with the requisite immigration status allowing them to work in the UK. They are therefore required to carry out the right to work checks for anyone whom they are looking to offer an employment or an apprenticeship as we all as those they already employ.

If the employer employs an illegal worker (even unknowingly), they could be subject to a civil fine of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker or, if found guilty of employing someone whom they had a “reasonable cause to believe” did not have the right to work in the UK, could be convicted to a prison sentence of up to 5 years and an unlimited fine. Not mentioning the fact that any sponsor license (tier 2) would be revoked and the Home Office may publish the details of the contravention and penalty imposed on the employer on its website.

A spouse visa is a type of visa that allows an individual to join their spouse or partner who is a British citizen or settled person in the UK. It is designed to facilitate the reunion of married or civil partnership couples who wish to live together in the UK. The spouse visa falls under the Family route of the UK immigration system and requires meeting specific requirements and providing supporting documentation. Successful applicants are granted permission to live and work in the UK for a specified period, usually initially granted for 30 months. After this initial period, the visa can be extended, leading to settlement in the UK. The spouse visa also offers access to public services and benefits, such as healthcare and education.

How to do the Right to Work Checks?

Here are few tips on doing the right to work checks the right way.

  • Do not delegate the Right to Work to third parties, such as recruitment agencies, as this will not afford you the statutory excuse in case of a prosecution.
  • Obtain original documents in accordance with the Home Office guidance on the Right to Work checks. Only the documents, which are listed in the guidance should be accepted. Any statutory excuse will expire together with the employees’ leave to remain in the UK, and subsequent checks will need to be conducted.
  • Check the documents in the presence of the holder to ensure the documents have not expired, and the prospective employee is the person pictured. Employers would not be able to rely on the statutory excuse if it was reasonably apparent that the document produced was falsified.

You should seek professional advice if you become aware that any of your prospective or current employees do not have a valid right to work.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also referred to as settlement or permanent residency, is an immigration status in the UK that offers individuals the privilege of residing and working in the country without any limitations on their duration of stay. ILR bestows various advantages upon individuals, including access to public funds, healthcare services, and educational opportunities. With ILR, individuals can establish their long-term presence in the UK, enjoying the freedom to live and work indefinitely.


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