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Eligibility to work in the UK

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From a legislative standpoint, the recruitment agency has a legal obligation to ensure that all contractors are eligible to work within the UK.

Some people may have restrictions on whether they are eligible to work in the UK, how long they can stay here and the type of work that they can do. As an employer you have a legal responsibility to prevent illegal workers from working here and it’s considered best practice to check the work entitlement of every potential employee, regardless of their ethnic or national origin. If you were to employ a person who is found to be an illegal worker, you may potentially face a civil penalty, an unlimited fine and a criminal conviction.

To check a potential employee’s entitlement to work in the UK you must obtain original identification from them.  The identification required is typically a passport or driver’s license, as well as a utility bill not more than three months old.

Once you have obtained these documents you will need to:

  • check that all the documents are genuine and valid, and have not been altered in any way;
  • check that the person named on the documents is the prospective employee (check that any photos and date of birth match the appearance of the person);
  • identify whether the documents allow the worker to do the work in question.

Keep a record of all the documents you obtain.  Best practice is to keep a hardcopy (photocopy) as well as a soft copy (scan); you shouldn’t keep a person’s original documents.  All documents should be copied in there entirety.

When copying a passport, copy:

  • the front cover;
  • all the pages that give details of your prospective employee’s personal details;
  • any photographs and signatures;
  • any pages containing a UK Government stamp or endorsement allowing the
  • person to do the job they are applying for.

These copies should be kept on file for the duration of at least three years after the point where they leave your employment. 

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