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Hiring staff from overseas for your small business

When it comes to hiring for any role, the main priority is getting the right candidate. You may need to look outside the UK if the applicants you are getting are not quite what you are looking for. There may be various reasons for wanting to employ people from overseas, however, whatever your reason you will need to adhere to certain rules and regulations.

Looking outside the UK borders can offer new perspectives and skills. If you have decided that you want to hire people from outside of the UK then here is all you need to know about hiring people from overseas for your small business in the UK.

Right to work

It is your duty as an employer to check if a candidate has the right to work in the UK. You could face serious consequences if you do not adhere to the rules and regulations set by the government. Therefore, it’s advised that employers make sure that all applicants have the right to work in the UK.

There are multiple ways that you can check this, but the best way is to check their official documents. A UK citizen may or may not have a British passport, however, they will need a national insurance number (usually sent around 16th birthday), and a birth certificate to prove their identity and their right to work in the UK as a British citizen.

When you are taking on a non-UK citizen, you will need to ensure that they have a working visa. They will also need to have an immigration status document issued by the home office. This document should highlight that a person has indefinite leave to remain or no time limit on their stay in the UK. Or they will require an official letter or document from a government agency or previous employer stating their name and national insurance number.

Employers also need to make sure that they are checking the documents of those employees that have working visas for a limited time. When the time runs out on a working visa, the employee will need to get it renewed, otherwise legally they cannot work in the UK.


The best and easiest way to deal with outsourcing is to use an outsourcing website. Two of the best-known sites in the UK are PeoplePerHour and Upwork. These two sites host a vast number of freelancers that you can outsource help from. As the two different platforms will be the intermediary between you and the employees, it can make it easier to pay them. If you are outsourcing work from overseas that isn’t using recognised platforms, you need to make sure that you are adhering to the relevant tax laws. Therefore, seeking professional advice from small business accountants is advised.


The consequences of employing an individual that does not have the right to work in the UK are quite severe. As the employer, you could face up to five years in prison and/or have to pay an unlimited fine if you knew, or had a reasonable cause to believe, that they did not have the right to be employed in the UK. If you have any doubts about their permission to: enter and stay in the UK, if their leave expired, they weren’t allowed to do certain types of work or their paperwork was false or incorrect, you cannot employ the individual. As the consequences can be so dire, it’s essential to be 100% sure that employees have the right to work in the UK before you take them on.

If you think a candidate does not have the right to work in the UK, then you should not hire them. If you have found that a current employee does not have the right to work in the UK, then you will need to take action. The best course of action is to make sure your suspicions or doubts are correct. Then you will need to look at the termination of the employees’ contract, or risk being fined or imprisoned.


When it comes to taxes, you will need to make sure that you are well educated on the taxes that you will have to deal with. For example, if you are outsourcing from India, then you will need to make sure that you are aware of all the tax liabilities involved. Having to deal with taxes and potentially having to seek professional advice on dealing with international tax, should be something to consider when making the decision to hire internationally. If you want to outsource from overseas and hire employees from overseas, then make sure that you seek professional advice.

More on staff management and employee contracts.

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