New civil penalty rates will apply to those employers who are found to have employed someone without the right to work in the UK.

Employers are at risk of a civil penalty if they do not carry out pre-employment right to work checks on all workers. A correctly carried out check will provide a defence to a civil penalty, even if it turns out that the workers was in fact working illegally, but had, for example, convincing fake documentation.

In August 2023 the Government announced its intention to increase the level of the civil penalties and it has now been confirmed that the planned rises will take place on 22 January 2024:


Current civil penalty

New civil penalty

First breach

up to £15,000

up to £45,000

Subsequent breaches

up to £20,000

up to £60,000


According to Government figures from August 2023, since the start of 2018, almost 5,000 civil penalties were issued to employers with a total value of £88.4m. The Government has also stated that there is an increased focus on this area with immigration enforcement activity stepped up.

The increases to the penalty levels and the greater amount of enforcement activity makes getting right to work checks all the more important for businesses.

Potentially penalties can be reduced if certain steps have been taken, including simply paying early for a 30% reduction, if the circumstances indicate that objecting is unlikely to be successful.

Lengthy right to work guidance (the pdf version runs to 67 pages) indicates the complexity of this area, with different methods of check applying depending on whether the proposed new recruit is a British or Irish national, holds electronic evidence of status, or has some other form of permission to work.

Our experienced team can help with:

  • Right to work policies and procedures to minimise the likelihood of mistakes
  • Ensuring that information requests and civil penalty notices are responded to correctly so that fines are minimized or possibly overturned
  • Procedures involving the potential dismissal of an employee, where they may not have the right to work
  • Right to work audits, looking at the validity of historical checks based on the guidance at the relevant time

For more information please contact Phillip Vallon who leads the Druces Immigration & Employment team and can assist.

Picture of Phillip Vallon

Phillip Vallon

Partner and Head of Employment & Immigration

Share this article:

How can we help?

To find out more about our services, please contact us on: