As a small business when you decide to employ someone is a huge step and responsibility.  Ensuring you have documents prooving each employee has a right to work in the UK.    There are some easy steps to take to ensure that you are protecting not only your reputation but also your bank balance and avoid a custodial sentence.  It is up to an employer to establish what is known as an ‘Excuse’ this can either be ongoing or it needs to be reviewed every 12 months and you and do that by doing the following:

Ensure that you ask for relevant documentation for all employees

Relevant documentation would usually be a passport – driving licenses are not a recognised document to check for eligibility however if someone doesn’t have a passport there is a list of what two other forms of ID are acceptable but some things to watch for – you need a full long birth certificate not a short one.  In some instances of spousal visa’s you need to establish that the spouse is actually living with the holder of the visa.

Ensure you check

  • it is an original document
  • photograph – do they look like the people you are employing
  • expiry dates – are they still in date?  
  • date of birth – is it the same as on starter paperwork
  • names and signatures
  • endorsements and stamps where applicable


  • Front Page and all parts that show personal details relating to a potential employee
  • Any appropriate page containing government stamps/endorsements that permit type of work in question


Sign the photocopy to say you have seen the original documents, and date and store in a safe place.

Retain and Review

Ensure that you have a copy of the documents on each personnel file – that can be electronic – if you have any visa’s or work permits it is always best to keep those on file and in a separate file an keep a log as you will need to review the original documents every 12 months to ensure they are still current

At the moment anyone within the EU may come and work in the UK freely but with Brexit there maybe some changing coming but at the moment this is what is required by law for anyone that you employ.

Remember – these checks should be conducted on all applicants but in reality as long as you have them on the first day of employment you will be covered.

If you would like some advice I offer an HR Health Check and can check to make sure you have everything right or if you want some ongoing support why not look at my service plans.  You can have a fixed rate and some peace of mind – not only that you had someone to ask but also that you don’t have a huge bill at the end of the month.

If you want to read more about the documents that you can accept go to www.gov.uk.


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