The Government has published a new code of practice for employers to prevent unlawful working by people without the right to work in the UK. Its sets out when civil penalties become payable, what to do to prevent illegal working, and what defences are available. There are useful flowcharts that employers can use to check that they are protecting themselves from enforcement action. For those who break the rules there are flowcharts for the level of the penalty.

Employers with a “clean” illegal working record over the three previous years face a penalty of £15,000 before deductions are applied, for example, for reporting the illegal working and co-operating with the authorities. This penalty is for the first breach. For second and subsequent breaches the penalty is £20,000 before deductions. There is a statutory excuse that the employer has correctly carried out the prescribed right to work checks before the employee starts work. In these circumstances there is no penalty.

The document (Code of practice on preventing illegal working) provides a quick route to checking list A documents for those who have a permanent right to work, and list B documents for those with a temporary right to work. It also explains how the online checking service for employers works, and when this is not available it explains how to carry out manual checking.