Employers: illegal working penalties

Information to help employers prevent illegal working and understand the fines (civil penalties) they face when they employ illegal workers.

Check how the Home Office can help you if a job applicant is a Commonwealth citizen (known as ‘Windrush’ cases) who has the legal right to live in the UK but does not have the documents to prove it.

This collection includes documents about preventing illegal working and illegal working penalties for employers. It includes:

  • guidance on preventing illegal working
  • codes of practice for civil penalties and avoiding discrimination
  • lists of employers that have been fined
  • policy for publishing employers’ details

Check if someone can work in the UK using our quick answer tool.

If you’re reasonably satisfied that the worker has an outstanding application with the Home Office that was made before their previous leave expired or has an outstanding administrative review or appeal against a Home Office decision, you can get a Positive Verification Notice which confirms their right to work from the Employer Checking Service.

Guidance and codes of practice

  1. Carry out a right to work check: a 3 step guide
  2. Right to work checklist
  3. Right to work checks: an employer's guide
  4. Acceptable right to work documents: an employer's guide
  5. Preventing illegal working: frequently asked questions
  6. Civil penalty scheme for illegal working: code of practice
  7. Avoiding discrimination while preventing illegal working: code of practice
  8. Illegal working civil penalties: an employer's guide
  9. Preventing illegal working: guidance for employers, October 2013
  10. Preventing illegal working: code of practice, 2008
  11. Avoiding discrimination while preventing illegal working: code of practice, 2008
  12. Avoiding civil penalties: statutory excuse checksheet
  13. Windrush scheme and information


Published 22 January 2014
Last updated 14 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated illegal working penalties: totals for 1 October to 31 December 2017.
  2. Added a link to new guidance for employers conducting right to work checks on undocumented Commonwealth citizens.
  3. Updated illegal working penalties guidance.
  4. Updated illegal working penalties guidance.
  5. Updated guidance
  6. added link to new online employer checking service form
  7. New guidance added to collection
  8. Added Statutory Excuse Checksheet
  9. First published.