Compliance Update: UK Employment Law Changes

The UK government has introduced a substantial increase in civil penalties for employers who hire undocumented individuals. Effective January 2024, the penalty for employing undocumented individuals has tripled. This underscores the need for employers to continuously maintain their compliance programs and take proactive measures to avoid unintended consequences.

Here’s what those increases and penalties look like:

  • The civil penalty for employing undocumented workers is set to triple.
  • For a first breach, the penalty will increase from a maximum of £15,000 to £45,000 per undocumented worker.
  • For repeat breaches, the penalty will rise from a maximum of £20,000 to £60,000 per undocumented worker.
  • Employers also face the risk of having their sponsor license revoked if they are specifically licensed by the Home Office to sponsor non-British or Irish workers. This revocation can lead to the termination of employment for all sponsored workers, not just those involved in right-to-work breaches. This means that companies may lose the right to employ international workers in the future.
  • Employers who knowingly or have reasonable cause to believe that an employee lacks the right to work face personal criminal liability. This includes an unlimited fine and potential imprisonment for up to five years.

An up-to-date and effective compliance program may help your organisation avoid these fines. The requirements for complying with the new law – such as right-to-work checks at onboarding and auditing any internal compliance files of existing employees – ought to be best practice for your hiring process. Frequently conducting and updating compliance trainings for employees involved in the hiring, and regularly auditing internal compliance processes can help your organisation ensure that it’s following proper procedures.

Seeking legal counsel is highly recommended for employers to gain a comprehensive understanding of their legal obligations. Legal counsel can offer tailored advice and guidance on specific cases or situations that may arise for your organisation. Before making any changes to your compliance training, consult with your organisation’s legal counsel.

In anticipation of this regulatory change, Litmos has updated its Right to Work (UK) course. This course covers which right to work checks employers must carry out to ensure employees have the right to live and work in the UK, and the penalties and sanctions for getting it wrong.

Explore the course today:


The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.