Posted Date: 20th February 2024

The fines for employing illegal workers increased on 13th Feb 2024.

An illegal worker is someone who is:

  • subject to immigration control
  • not allowed to carry out the work in question because either they have not been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK or because their leave to enter or remain in the UK is invalid, has expired or been revoked, or is subject to a condition which prevents them from accepting employment

The fine for a first breach increased from £15,000 to £45,000 per illegal worker.

For repeated breaches, the fine increased from £20,000 up to £60,000 per illegal worker

You can still be fined for not doing any checks, even if the employee isn’t an illegal worker.

Employers should apply checks to all employees, whether or not they may already believe the employee to be legally in the UK, to avoid discrimination.

Remember, it is a legal requirement to check an employee’s right to work document on their first day of employment

It is also advisable to check your self-employed workers and any subcontractors who are carrying out work for you.

A driving licence is not a right to work – use the Gov’s right to work guidance, to check which documents are acceptable.

To correctly conduct a right to work check, you should:

  1. Obtain an acceptable document, as outlined in the Gov right to work guidance in the link above
  2. Check
  • That the documents are genuine and that the person is the rightful holder and allowed to do the type of work you are employing them for
  • photographs and dates of birth are consistent across documents and with the person’s appearance
  • expiry dates for permission to be in the UK have not passed
  • if there are any work restrictions (such as students who can only work during term-time)
  • the documents look genuine and have not been tampered with
  • the reasons for any difference in names across documents can be explained by providing evidence (for eg. an original marriage certificate). These supporting documents must also be photocopied and a copy retained
  1. Copy

A clear copy must be made of each document, are saved in a format which cannot be manually altered and saved securely electronically or in hardcopy.

You should also record a date on which you made the check, for eg. Sign and date a scanned copy of the document.

If scanning passports, it should include any page with the document expiry date, the holder’s nationality, date of birth, signature, immigration permission, expiry date, biometric details, photograph and any page containing information indicating the holder has an entitlement to enter or remain in the UK (visa or entry stamp) and undertake the work in question (the front cover no longer has to be copied).

Other documents should also be copied in full, including both sides of an Immigration Status Document and an Application Registration Card.

Copies of right to work documents should be kept securely for the duration of the worker’s employment and for two years afterwards. The copy must then be securely destroyed.


If you need any further support with this topic, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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