Preventing people from working illegally

As an employer you are legally required to prevent illegal working under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (as amended) and related legislation.

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It is a criminal offence to employ a person who does not have the right to work in the United Kingdom (UK).

Penalties

If you employ someone unlawfully, you are breaking the law and could receive a civil penalty fine of up to £20,000 per worker.

Always carry out specific checks of original documents prior to the person starting work and diarise when their permission to work will expire. It is best practice to carry out repeat checks at least once every 12 months where the employee’s authorisation to stay is time limited.

If you unknowingly employ someone who is not entitled to work in the UK and have carried out the required checks, you may have a defence (statutory excuse).

Avoiding discrimination

As an employer in Scotland you must carry out various checks to ensure all your employees are entitled to work legally in the UK. Checks also enable you to establish a legitimate reason (statutory excuse) against any civil penalty or fine in relation to illegal working.

When conducting checks, care must be taken to avoid race discrimination. As an employer you should request relevant documentation from all your employees, not just those you feel do not have permission to work in the UK. Never make assumptions based on things like appearance and accent.