It is a criminal offence to employ somebody that does not have the right to work in the UK. Failure to check an applicant’s right to work in the UK can lead to penalties of up to £20,000.

But don’t let this put you off employing European workers (and remember not to discriminate against those European workers that do have the legal right to work!)

Here are 5 quick steps you can take to ensure an applicant has the legal right to work in the UK.

STEP 1: You’ve decided you’d like to offer the role to a European worker. You can make a job offer at this point but it must be “subject to successful right to work check.” This MUST be checked prior to the applicant commencing employment and they MUST NOT start until the check is complete.

STEP 2: Ask the Employee to give you their ‘employer checking code’ and date of birth

STEP 3: Go to What is the share code? ( and enter the code, along with their date of birth.

If the applicant has the right to work in the UK, it will then tell you the applicant has ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status.

Pre-settled’ status means the applicant can work in the UK but there is an expiration date, meaning you will need to make a note to re-do the check ahead of the expiration date.

Settled’ status means the applicant can work in the UK and there is no limit on how long. You will not need to do any further checks.

If the check does not confirm that the applicant has the right to work, you cannot allow them to start with you.

STEP 4: Keep a PDF copy of the Right to Work check on the employee’s file.

STEP 5: The applicant can now start working!

And don’t forget, all workers and employees must have a written contract before or on their first day of employment too. Need help writing yours? Get in touch today to see how we can make you confidently compliant in your contract!