Is it racial discrimination for my employer to insist I produce papers to prove I have the right to work in the UK?

It is a criminal offence for your employer to employ someone who doesn’t have the right to work in the UK and there are stiff fines and penalties for employers found to be employing illegal workers.

Employers are under a legal obligation to ask all workers for proof of their right to work in the UK (and only certain documents can be accepted).

Asking all workers to provide proof of their right to work in the UK is not race discrimination. Selecting only some individuals and not others – based on stereotypical assumptions about, say, appearance, accent, language or name – is likely to be race discrimination.

Your employer should be following a statutory Code of Practice (updated in 2014) Avoiding discrimination while preventing illegal working (PDF, 62 KB).

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.