Right to work in Northern Ireland

It is important that an employer checks that a job applicant is allowed to work in the UK before they can employ them.  An employer could face a civil penalty if they employ an illegal worker and have not carried out a correct right to work check. 

Employers must check the applicant's identity and nationality and make sure that they have the relevant immigration permission or visa in place.  



Employers must not discriminate against anyone because of where they are from or on any of the other protected social identity grounds (such as race or ethnic origin) contained within Northern Ireland's anti-discrimination legislation.

There are various categories of people who do not require permission to work in the UK, although they may still be required to obtain a visa.  These broadly include British citizens, those who have the right of abode in the UK, those who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, Swiss nationals and non-EEA family members of EEA and Swiss nationals, provided they have evidence to show they reside in the UK. 

Right to work checks

There are two types of right to work checks:

  • a manual check; and
  • an online check

There are three basic steps to conducting a manual right to work check:

  • obtain original versions of one or more acceptable documents;
  • check the validity of the documents in the presence of the holder; and
  • make and retain a clear copy, and record the date the check was made.

Further details on the manual check and the process for the online check can be obtained by clicking on the links to GOV.UK

Contracts of Employment

If an employer wants to employ a person who requires permission to work in the UK, they may wish to consider including in the contract of employment clauses that allow the employer to request documentary evidence from the employee as and when required to prove:

  • the employee's nationality;
  • that they have the relevant immigration permission in place; and 
  • that they have the required leave to enter or remain in the UK and to confirm the date any leave expires.


Last updated: 05 June 2019