Guide

Pre-employment checks

Pre-employment checks: ensuring candidates are eligible to work in the UK

All employers in the UK have a responsibility to stop illegal workers. You must therefore check the entitlement of everyone you plan to employ to work in the UK. Failure to do so may result in a civil penalty or criminal conviction.

Some people can currently work in the UK without restriction, including British citizens and nationals of most countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

Even if you think that a potential employee has the right to work in the UK, you should still make the necessary checks. You should ask candidates to provide evidence of their right to work in the UK by producing original copies of documents specified by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

For more information on checking an employee's eligibility, see ensuring your workers are eligible to work in the UK.

In addition, check if someone can work in the UK on the GOV.UK website.

Employing someone who needs permission to work in the UK

You may need a sponsor licence to employ someone from outside the EEA and Switzerland to work for you in the UK. 

Read GOV.UK guidance on sponsorship.

For more information on checking an employee's eligibility, see ensuring your workers are eligible to work in the UK.

European Employment Service (EURES) network

EURES is a network linking all of the public employment services in Europe. EURES NI is part of the public employment services within the Department for the Economy (DfE).

Its role is to help people move freely within the EEA and take up work in other member states. It can also help you to recruit workers from other EEA countries if you cannot find the right people for your jobs locally.

You can contact EURES by emailing eures.section@economy-ni.gov.uk

Read more about EURES.

Important: This information is still current but could change as a result of the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. Any changes will be documented here. For more information, see Brexit support for employers.

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