Prevention of Illegal Working – Reminder

Under the prevention of illegal working legislation, it is unlawful for an employer to hire someone if they do not have the Right to Work in the UK or if they are breaching the terms of their stay in the UK by working.

‘Prevention of illegal working’ refers to the duty on an employer to ensure that anyone they employ is not disqualified from working in the UK, or carrying out the work in question, by reason of their immigration status.

This means that employers have a responsibility to conduct a right to work check on all prospective employees before employing them, even if they claim to be a UK national, as well as carrying out checks on existing employees whose right to work in the UK is time limited.

Where an employer is found to have employed someone who, by reason of their immigration status, is prohibited from legally working in the UK, they may be liable to pay a civil penalty and face criminal prosecution.

Breach of the prevention of illegal working rules means a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker. There is also a range of additional sanctions that may flow from this:

  • Disqualification as a director.
  • Seizure of earnings made because of illegal working.
  • Closure of the business and a compliance order issued by the court.

EU nationals who were already in the UK by 31 December 2020 are able to remain in the UK with lawful status, provided they have secured their status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you have any concerns about this subject contact us at and we can discuss.

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