Ensuring your workers are eligible to work in the UK

Copying and retaining workers' records

When a prospective worker gives you their relevant documents to prove that they have the right to work in the UK, you must keep a record of these documents. You must do this by either photocopying them or scanning and saving them electronically on a non-rewritable disk - eg CD-R or DVD-R.

With passports and travel documents, you must copy:

  • the front cover
  • the date of expiry
  • any photographs and signature
  • all of the pages giving the prospective worker's personal details, including nationality
  • pages containing a UK government stamp or endorsement which allows the prospective worker to do the work you are offering

You should copy other documents in their entirety.

Keep copies of the documents until two years after the worker's employment ends. Having a record of every copied document will help you establish a statutory excuse if the UK Border Agency (UKBA) detects anyone working illegally for you.

If you lose any records, the UKBA may look at your normal recruitment procedures when considering if you have established a statutory excuse, eg if you have a consistent practice of copying documents for each worker.

You should not retain a person's original documents, except for the purpose of copying them. The only exceptions are:

  • when an individual gives you a P45 as part of a combination of documents, you should retain part 2 of the document for three years to comply with HM Revenue & Customs rules
  • when you employ someone for 24 hours or less and it is not practicable to obtain a copy of the documents, you can retain the document(s) while they work for you but you must have facilities for keeping them safe

You must not keep a potential worker's original documents for more than a day. If you deliberately keep, or retain without consent, a person's passport or other original documents belonging to them, you may be guilty of an offence.

Subjects covered in this guide

UKBA Sponsorship and Employers' Helpline

0300 123 4699


Also on this site

Developed with:
UK Border Agency