For many years, there have been requirements for employers to verify the identity of their workers, to prevent illegal working. The legislation was backed up with fines.
From 29 February 2008, the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 increased the civil penalty imposed on an employer to a maximum of £10,000 (previously £5,000) for every illegal worker employed in the UK. It also introduced a new criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal worker, with a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
Employers can avoid both a civil penalty and committing a criminal offence by checking, on recruitment, that workers have a right to work in the UK. To obtain this protection, employers must make the checks before the worker starts work.
There are two lists of acceptable documents for checking identity, similar to the lists which employers have used since 1997. List A contains items such as a British passport, which have no time limits on working in the UK. List B contains a list of documents which carry restrictions on the amount of time individuals will be able to spend in the UK. A significant change is that employers will have to carry out annual checks for those workers whose documents appear on List B, such as work permit holders.
You may wish to review your procedures in light of these new rules.