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 carry out a right to work check for 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 inform all job applicants who are invited to interview that a right to work check will be required before they can be employed.

The Government introduced an updated Code of practice for employers: avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working on 6 April 2022. 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.