Recruiting foreign workers: your responsibilities

Recruiting foreign workers

From following a fair recruitment process, conducting comprehensive checks, contracts of employment, calculating pay, and steering clear of hefty fines, we’ve got you covered when it comes to recruiting foreign workers – and staying on the right side of the law.

Don’t discriminate

First things first, your recruitment process should follow the same best practices as normal. Under no circumstances should you treat foreign applicants any differently to UK applicants – doing so will only open you up to discrimination claims.

To avoid any backlash, make sure the wording in your job description and person specification cannot be construed as discriminatory, use a standard set of questions in interviews and document all answers given.

Legal checks

Before recruiting any worker, you must check they have the legal right to work in the UK.

If you’re unsure, the government has an online tool where you can check eligibility, and discover which documents you should check.

Once you’ve received any relevant documentation, take care to look out for any red flags, like:

  • Signs of tampering
  • Inconsistent photographs or date of birth
  • Name discrepancies – don’t jump to conclusions though, there could be a reasonable explanation for this
  • Passport stamps or endorsements that restrict the type of labour or number of hours that can be worked
  • If the individual is from outside of the EU, the EEA or Switzerland and presents you with a ‘right to work’ document, make sure it’s the original
  • Make sure any ‘right to work’ documents are within their expiration date.

Remember to keep records and photocopies of all original documents.


If an employee come from abroad, they won’t have a P45. If this is the case, you’ll need to obtain their: full name, gender, date of birth, full address and National Insurance number.

To calculate what deductions need to be taken from their pay, you’ll need to get your hand on an employment declaration and find out whether they’ve any outstanding student loan debt.

Last but not least, ask the employee to confirm which of the following applies to them:

-This is their first job since last 6 April and they’ve not been receiving taxable Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, taxable Incapacity Benefit or state or occupational pension.

-This is their only job, but since last 6 April they’ve had another job, or have received taxable Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or taxable Incapacity Benefit – they don’t receive a state or occupational pension.

-They have another job or receive a state or occupational pension.

You should keep written records of all information you receive, and pass it onto HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on your Full Payment Submission (FPS).

Breaches of immigration law

It’s against the law to employ someone who doesn’t have the right to work in the UK. Whether you fell short on your checks or knowingly recruited an illegal worker, you could be subject to:

  • Up to five years in jail
  • Unlimited fines
  • A penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

Need a hand?

If you need help with anything from contracts of employment and recruitment processes, to handling discrimination claims and checking documents, we’ve a team of highly qualified experts here to do just that.

Get in touch or give us a call on 0345 844 1111 today, to see how we can help.

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