Why do we all need to prevent illegal working? The ability to work illegally is a key driver of illegal migration. It leaves people vulnerable to exploitation and results in unscrupulous employers undercutting compliant businesses. It can also negatively impact on the wages of lawful workers and is linked to other labour market abuse such as tax evasion, breach of the national minimum wage and exploitative working conditions, including modern slavery in the most serious cases.
All employers in the UK have a responsibility to prevent illegal working. You do this by conducting simple right to work checks before you employ someone, to make sure the individual is not disqualified from carrying out the work in question by reason of their immigration status. You may be liable to pay a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker you employ.
The UK government publishes guidance on how and when to conduct a right to work check. If you conduct the checks as set out in guidance and the code of practice, you will have a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty in the event you are found to have employed someone, who is prevented from carrying out the work in question, by reason of their immigration status. This means that if we find that you have employed someone who does not have the right to do the work in question, but you have correctly conducted right to work checks as required, you will not receive a civil penalty for that illegal worker.
In addition to the codes of practice, there are a range of tools available on GOV.UK to support you in conducting right to work checks.