The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has published new guidance for employers on preventing illegal working which can be found here.

The new guidance is more detailed than the 2008 version, includes some new provisions and provides clarification on carrying out right to work checks.

The main changes include:

confirmation that employers can now accept a valid and unexpired UK visa/residence permit in an expired passport as proof of a migrant’s right to work in the UK (other than in the case of a certificate to the right of abode which must still appear in a valid passport). This is a welcome departure from the UKBA’s previous position (last confirmed in August of this year), that expired passports could only be accepted as proof of the right to work in limited circumstances.

  • updated images of right to work documents  
  • two new appendices on employing asylum seekers and students  
  • flow charts to assist with right to work checks  
  • more detailed guidance on fines  
  • updated contact details for UKBA  

All employers (and particularly those with sponsor licences) should familiarise themselves with this guidance. Civil penalties of up to £10,000 per illegal migrant worker employed on or after 29 February 2008 can be imposed on employers which are unable to demonstrate that they have carried out the correct right to work document checks (i) before the employment in question began and (ii) at 12 monthly intervals thereafter, in the case of those with limited leave to remain in the UK. However, regardless of any document checks undertaken before or during employment, an employer which knowingly employs an illegal migrant worker could receive a civil penalty and/or face criminal prosecution. Licensed sponsors found to be in breach of the guidance on preventing illegal working are also at risk of having their licences downgraded or withdrawn altogether.