There are several ways for employers to check whether a job applicant has the legal right to work in the United Kingdom.
You can avoid prosecution for employing illegal workers by checking a potential employee's eligibility (e.g. the original documentation or their right to work share code).
Employers can view a job applicant's right to work details to check they can work legally in the United Kingdom.
Using a share code (e.g. A1234567G), you can view information online about your potential employee, such as:
It may be necessary as a job applicant to prove your right to work to an employer using an official identification document (e.g. your passport or national identity card).
Even so, employers have other methods for checking a job applicant's right to work in situations where there is no share code available.
Before you employ a job applicant, you must check and confirm they have the legal right to work in the United Kingdom.
As an employer, you can achieve this by checking (either):
The penalties for employing illegal workers are severe (e.g. for not carrying out a right to work check).
Furthermore, employers must not discriminate against staff members because of the country they came from.
Be sure to check:
Note: The Home Office has further guidance for employers who need to carry out right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).
Note: Another section explains more about data protection and following data protection law when running a business.
The Home Office would need to check immigration employment status of your employee (or potential employee) if they (any):
Application registration cards and certificates of application must state permission for the work offered by the employer. It is common for these types of documents not to allow the person to perform work duties.
You can use the Employer Checking Service (ECS) to ask the Home Office to check an employee's or potential employee's immigration status.
Following that, you would receive a 'Positive Verification Notice' from them with confirmation on the applicant's eligibility to work in the United Kingdom. Be sure to keep this important document on file.
Employers can check if a document allows someone to work in the United Kingdom to find out:
Note: Temporary changes may affect the way you check documents (due to the coronavirus outbreak). For example, you can ask for digital versions and carry out the checks on a video call.
There are several other important checks that employers can run on job applicants to make sure they are allowed to work in the United Kingdom.
Important: The maximum fine for not being able to show evidence that you checked an employee's right to work in the UK is £20,000.
The documentation used to prove EU citizens (and their family members) can work in the UK expires 31st of December 2020.
EU citizens and their families can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status) to prove they can continue working in this country.
Employers can request a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on potential employees. In some cases, more detailed checks are available for certain roles (e.g. childcare, healthcare).
Note: The 'rehabilitation period' means telling employers about your conviction is not required (for most crimes). Employers must also meet certain criteria to check a person's spent criminal record for a job. It is against the law to refuse to employ someone because they have a spent conviction.
In some circumstances, employers can ask successful candidates to undergo a health check before they hire them. Typical examples include times when:
If so, the offer letter should include any relevant information about the required checks. You should also get written consent from the candidate before asking for a report from their doctor.
Even so, job candidates can demand to view the report supplied by their doctor. They can also withhold it or ask for certain changes to be made.
Important: Another section explains more about discrimination policy and equal opportunities during the recruitment of new staff members for the workplace.
It is important for employers to follow all the rules on data protection when handling personal details and information from job applicants.
Employer Enquiry Helpline (Home Office)
Telephone: 0300 123 5434
Monday to Thursday: 9am to 4:45pm
Friday: 9am to 4:30pm
UK telephone call charges
Note: UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) provide further guidance for employers explaining how and why they need to conduct a right to work check.
Application questions asked by business owners (or representatives) or Tier 1 investors:
Email: [email protected]
Application questions made by educational providers or Tier 4 sponsors:
Email: [email protected]
Note: The information given in this section is part of the step by step guide to employing someone and the responsibilities for employers.
Check a Job Applicant's Right to Work Documents for United Kingdom