How can employers avoid race discrimination when taking steps to guard against illegal working?

An employer can be subject to civil penalties or criminal prosecution if it employs someone who does not have the right to work in the UK. To guard against this, employers should obtain documentary evidence, in accordance with the Home Office's lists of acceptable documents, from all individuals to whom they offer employment.

To avoid allegations of race discrimination, employers should treat all applicants in the same way. They should not make any assumptions about which individuals may or may not have the right to work in the UK based on, for example, their name, colour, accent or the length of their residence in the UK. Employers may wish to include a statement with all letters sent out inviting job applicants to interview that they will require documentary evidence of their right to work in the UK.

The Government introduced an updated Code of practice for employers: avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working in May 2014. Although the code is not legally binding, a failure to observe it may be taken into account by an employment tribunal in its assessment of a complaint of race discrimination.