September 2016


Rights to Work in the UK - this summer's Employment Law update

This summer, new legislation has taken effect in the UK under the Immigration Act 2016. Debra Wyatt, client relationship manager at Kenilworth-based business management consultant Absolute Works, explains the new rules. 


It has never been more important for employers to be fully conversant with legislation affecting the status of their employees.

All employers are now required to comply with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2016. Under this Act, employers must obtain, check and retain documentary evidence of an employee’s right to work in the UK before that employee commences employment.

Currently there are criminal liabilities for any employer who “knowingly” employs an individual who does not have the right to undertake work. This summer the Immigration Act 2016 has extended those liabilities to include employers who have “reasonable cause to believe” that an employee is disqualified from employment by reason of their immigration status.

The maximum term of imprisonment for a criminal immigration offence has been increased from two to five years and there is also potential for an unlimited fine, in addition to such imprisonment. Never have employers more urgently needed to ensure they are right up to date with Employment Law.

Penalties can apply to both employer and employee. Where an individual is found to have worked in the UK, with the knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that they are working illegally, that individual could face up to six months imprisonment. Additionally, his or her earnings could be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Additional powers for Immigration Officers include:

* Searching and seizing documents in connection with the imposition of a civil penalty where they have reasonable grounds for believing the employer is in breach of their duties to prevent illegal working.

* Imposing compliance sanctions or closing businesses which continue to employ illegal workers.

* A new power to close premises for up to 48 hours where a business employs illegal migrants (an implementation date for this to come into force is yet to be advised).

It is vitally important that employers conduct full checks on an employee's Right to Work prior to their employment commencement date. If the checks are carried out correctly, this will provide employers with a “statutory excuse” which protects them from civil and criminal liabilities. 

If you would like a full list of documents which you should use to check eligibility to work in the UK, or if you need any support in this area, then please contact Debra Wyatt on  Telephone 01926748040.


Absolute Works provide HR advice and support, Health and Safety audit and training, Recruitment, Training and Payroll Bureau.



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