Right to Work

Employers have a duty to prevent illegal working by carrying out the correct document checks before employing someone to ensure they are legally allowed to work in the UK.


The Immigration Act 2016 introduces even tougher measures for those found to be employing illegal workers and not complying with Right to Work checks.

Find out more below to ensure you have a robust and reliable checking process to help avoid potential penalties.

What are Right to Work checks?

A right to work check means that you check an identity document which is acceptable for showing someone's legal permission to work in the UK. These checks should be carried out before you employ a person to make sure that they are legally allowed to do the work in question. If someone has time-limited permission to work in the UK, you also need to conduct a follow-up check on them.

There are three main steps when checking someone's identity documents to see if they have a Right to Work in the UK:

Obtain passport
Check documents

Step 1: Obtain

Obtain a person's original documents, such as passport, visa or biometric residence permit.

The acceptable documents for demonstrating Right to Work in the UK are set out in two lists – List A and List B. You can find a complete guide to acceptable documents here.

Step 2: Check

Check that the documents are genuine and valid while the individual is with you - either face to face or using a live video link. 

Step 3: Copy

Make a clear copy of the documents that you've checked including the date and who made the check and keep an auditable copy.

Electronic document validation solutions can make the Right to Work checking process quicker and more reliable, removing much of the administration and ensuring that all your staff have a robust and consistent process to follow.

Download our quick guide here.

What are the risks?

If you fail to carry out Right to Work checks correctly, or at all, and you are found employing someone illegally, you may face tough penalties.
The Immigration Act 2016*, introduced in July 2016, means that any employer who either knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a person is working illegally may face:

  • A fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker
  • A prison sentence of up to 5 years
  • Arrest from an immigration enforcement officer

Not making appropriate identity checks could also lead to other, unknown costs, for example the risk of UK Immigration suspending or revoking your Tier 2 sponsorship license or brand damage if news of your illegal workers is publicised (see Byron Burgers, July 2016)

With a recent Home Office promise to 'crack down' on illegal working, it's critical to confirm the validity of employees' identity documents and comply with Right to Work legislation.

*For more details regarding the Immigration Act 2016 take a look at this immigration law blog from Kingsley Napley.

How can electronic document scanning help?


As part of the 'Check' step of Right to Work compliance, you need to ensure that an applicant's identity documents are genuine, original and unchanged.
An electronic scan can help you make these checks on international passports, biometric residence permits and visas within just a few seconds.

A scan validates both the information visible to the naked eye but, more importantly, it also captures and evaluates non-visible security features which are the checks fraudsters find most difficult to cheat. This means that you are far more likely to identify any fraudulent documents.

With just a short training session, electronic scanning gives your team a consistent, reliable and straightforward way to perform checks without having to be document experts. 

You will also save time at the 'Copy' step since an electronic scan captures and records all key document data as a .pdf report, along with the date and time of the scan. You can easily search the document archive to support an external audit and demonstrate proof of compliance.

Watch a demo


The Home Office recommends document scanners as a "quick and easy way to establish the authenticity of documents presented for identity verification purposes", stating that "scanners can play an important role in supporting front line staff to screen out counterfeit documents"

Home Office guidance on Document Scanning

Who uses electronic scanning for Right to Work checks?

Organisations across both the public and private sectors are now benefiting from the TrustID validation solution because it offers an uncomplicated yet accurate way to validate documents presented to support identity. Some of the market sectors that we support are detailed below but please visit our Markets section for more details.


We help construction companies to avoid penalties and prevent damage to their brand by verifying employees', contractors' and sub-contractors' eligibility to work in the UK.

Learn more

Facilities Management

We help companies in the Facilities Management sector improve security and strengthen compliance around Right to Work with our identity scanning solutions.

Learn more


Our identity document scanning solutions help recruitment companies to ensure that the staff they place are fully vetted and have a right to work in the UK.

Learn more

Get in touch for more information on Right to Work compliance