Working and employing legally in the UK

The Home Office of the UK Government has specific rules which determine who can work legally in the United Kingdom and who employers can hire. We have tried to lay some of these out broadly for a few of the major classes of people below.

Am I Allowed to work in the UK?

If you are going to seek work in the United Kingdom you must make sure that you can – either due to your nationality, or by having the correct permissions. All work seekers registering with Recruit Hospitality Ltd must be able to prove, using the requisite documents, that they are entitled to work in the United Kingdom. You will need to take these documents with you when you report for work so that employers can fulfil their obligations. If you are in any doubt about whether you can work in the UK, we advise you to check your status on the website by clicking here.

British, Swiss & European Economic Area Citizens

British citizens, Swiss citizens, and citizens of the following EEA countries are permitted to work in the UK without restriction:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

If you are from Croatia, you may need to apply for a registration certificate to be allowed to work in the UK. Please check this here.

Students (who are not British citizens or from the EEA)

Non-UK students can work whilst in the UK, but there are certain limitations, including the number of hours that you can work during term time. If you are in the U.K on a Tier 4 student visa, please click here to see the Home Office’s policy guidance, reading from paragraph 266 “Can I work Whilst in the UK?”.

Students on short-term study visas are not permitted to work in the UK.

People with British Ancestry

If you are in the UK on an Ancestry Visa, you are entitled to work unencumbered whilst your visa is valid. Please see the Home Office’s guidance here for more information.        

Other Situations

If you do not fall into one of the above categories, it is likely that you will need a specific Visa to work legally in the United Kingdom. This is usually applied for and obtained in your country of origin before entering the UK. There are diverse types of Visa which one might apply for depending on your specific situation. Please check this here.

Employing Legally in the UK

Who am I allowed to hire, and what do I need to do to be compliant with regulations?

The Home Office has stringent requirements to ensure that employers only employ people who can work in the United Kingdom. Employing illegal workers carries severe penalties, which may include fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker. People who knowingly employ illegal workers could also be sent to jail for up to 2 years. To check if somebody has the right to work in the UK please consult the government advice here.

In order to avoid fines and prosecution employers must perform the following checks on people that they are employing and their documents, namely that:

  • the documents are genuine, original and unchanged and belong to the person who has given them to you
  • the dates for the applicant’s right to work in the UK haven’t expired
  • photos are the same across all documents and look like the applicant
  • dates of birth are the same across all documents
  • the applicant has permission to do the type of work you’re offering (including any limit on the number of hours they can work)
  • for students, you see evidence of their study and vacation times
  • if 2 documents give different names, the applicant has supporting documents showing why they’re different, e.g. a marriage certificate or divorce decree.

Employers are advised to consult the government’s comprehensive guidance here.

You can also contact the ACAS helpline Monday-Friday 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am – 1pm on Saturday:

Telephone: 0300 123 1100
Text phone: 18001 0300 123 1100