Legal working in the UK

Legal working in the UK

Navigating the strict legal requirements, you face as an employer can be a lengthy and unforgiving process. The UK imposes strict legal requirements on employers to ensure that they hire individuals who are legally entitled to work here.  

Non-compliance can result in severe penalties, including fines up to £20,000 per illegal worker and potential imprisonment for knowingly hiring illegal workers. Additionally, businesses can be temporarily or permanently closed for repeated offences. 

However, fear not, as we delve into the specifics to keep you out of the watchful eye of government regulatory bodies.  

Documentation Requirements

To comply with the law, employers must verify and retain certified copies of specific documents from either List A or List B: 

List A (No further checks needed): 

  • British or EEA passport/ID card 
  • Home Office registration certificates or permanent residence cards 
  • Biometric Residence Permits indicating indefinite leave to remain 

List B (Follow-up checks needed): 

  • Current passport with work endorsements 
  • Biometric Residence Permits for temporary stay 
  • Home Office-issued immigration status documents 

For List B documents, follow-up checks are required when the documents eventually expire. 

Points-Based System 

The points-based system assesses non-EEA nationals based on their skills and job offers: 

  • Tier 1: Highly skilled workers (e.g., doctors, scientists) – no job offer required. 
  • Tier 2: Skilled workers with job offers in high-demand sectors. 
  • Tier 3: Low-skilled workers (currently suspended). 
  • Tier 4: Students. 
  • Tier 5: Temporary workers (e.g., musicians, youth mobility). 

Employers must hold a sponsor licence to hire under Tiers 2 and 5, involving a fee and compliance with specific duties. 

Sponsorship and Compliance 

Employers sponsoring Tier 2 workers must apply for a sponsor licence (£1,476 for large businesses, £536 for small businesses/charities). They must issue certificates of sponsorship and adhere to ongoing compliance requirements, including maintaining HR systems and reporting absences to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). 

Identity Cards and Transitional Measures 

Foreign nationals from outside the EEA and Switzerland are issued identity cards or passport stickers. Post-Brexit, EEA nationals may need to prove their right to work, which was after the transition period ending 31 December 2020. 

Verification and Ongoing Checks 

Employers must verify that documents are legitimate and match the individual. This includes: 

  • checking photos 
  • dates of birth 
  • document expiration dates.  

Follow-up checks are necessary for temporary visas and applications in progress. 

To avoid discrimination, employers should uniformly ask all potential employees to provide original documents proving their right to work in the UK.  

How can we help? 

By following our guidelines, employers can ensure compliance with UK immigration laws and avoid severe penalties. Additionally, a more detailed breakdown of all requirements can be found here 

If you would like to discuss any concerns or have any questions We will be more than happy to provide you with assistance or any additional information required. Please get in touch with our Commercial Client Director, Fabrice Legris, at