Preventing people from working illegally

As an employer you should conduct right to work checks under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (as amended) and related legislation.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Right to work checks have been temporarily adjusted due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This is to make it easier for employers to carry them out.  More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

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

Ukrainian Sponsorship Scheme

Guidance for employers on completing right to work checks for Ukrainian nationals in the UK under the Ukrainian Sponsorship Scheme has been published and is available here.


If you employ someone who doesn’t have current and valid permission to do the job in question you could receive a civil penalty fine of up to £20,000 per worker. 

Always carry out specific checks of original documents or do the relevant online/digital right to work check prior to the person starting work and diarise when their permission to work will expire. Ensure that you carry out a repeat right to work check prior to the expiry of their visa. Doing these checks in line with the guidance can mean that you have a statutory excuse (or defence) to any civil penalty fine should it transpire that the employee in question does not have the right to work.

Full details of what is required in terms of right to work checks can be found at the link below. 

There is also a criminal offence of knowingly employing someone who is not entitled to work in the UK. However, criminal enforcement is usually reserved for more serious cases.  

Avoiding discrimination

As an employer in Scotland you should carry out various checks to ensure all your employees are entitled to work legally in the UK. Checks also enable you to establish a 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.