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  • 10 Jan 2024

    Draft code of practice on preventing illegal working comes into effect this January 2024

    Last year the Home Office published ‘Draft code of practice on preventing illegal working: Right to Work Scheme for employers’ which is set to come into force on the 22nd of January.

    In the UK, employers and employees are expected to follow the rules and regulations set out by the Home Office in order to ensure that employment is granted to those with legal rights to work in the UK.

    The draft code will aim to address the issue of employers hiring people who do not have a legal right to work in the UK, deterring this with higher fines and stricter restrictions.

    What changes will the Draft Code of Practice bring?

    Increased penalty fines

    A key element of the draft code is that there will be a significant increase in fines against employers using unlawful employment practices.

    The penalty level will increase by £30,000 from £15,000 to £45,000 per worker for the first breach.  If the offence is repeated, employers could face a fine of up to £60,000 in contrast to the current £20,000.

    However, please note there is scope in instances where there are mitigating factors, or if it’s a first time fine and the full payment is made within 21 days for the fine to be reduced.

    These increases are planned to have effect from the same date, 22nd of January.

    Stricter restrictions

    The draft also brings stricter restrictions on employers who been caught violating the right to work regulations.

    This will include things such as:

    • Limitations on hiring practices
    • Probationary periods for compliance
    • Increased scrutiny in future hiring processes

    Enhanced right to work checks

    Furthermore, the draft code highlights the importance of thorough and comprehensive right to work checks for all employees.

    Employers will need to be vigilant to ensure that potential employees meet the legal requirements to be hired, including verifying the authenticity of all documentation.

    With the UK government taking a harder approach to illegal employment practices, employers need to be proactive in adapting to the changes detailed in the draft code of practice

    The new draft code of practice emphasises the government’s priority of cracking down on illegal employment, enforcing compliance and thorough right to work checks.

    As a result of this, it is vital to conduct accurate right-to-work checks on every employee, encompassing British nationals, EU citizens, and non-EEA nationals.


    If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming changes, contact our Employment team today.

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