Civil Penalties for employing illegal immigrants and others from abroad without the right to work
On the 29th of February 2008 significant changes were made to the laws on illegal working in the UK.
Employers are required to conduct annual checks on the immigration status and eligibility to work of employees who are not settled in the UK. If any worker is found to be ineligible to work the employer is likely to be issued a Civil Penalty of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker.
Teams of officers from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) regularly visit workplaces to locate and arrest illegal workers. More often than not these visits are as a result of intelligence passed to UKBA enforcement offices. The areas of employment most frequently targeted by UKBA enforcement officers are:
- fast food outlets and restaurants;
- the building and construction sector;
- factories and food processing units;
- the security industry;
- businesses employing casual labour
If it is established that employers have knowingly employed illegal workers, the employer may additionally face criminal prosecution resulting in a fine or imprisonment or both. The ability to sponsor a worker from abroad is prejudiced or removed. In addition to facing the prospect of substantial fines, employers now also face the likelihood of having their details published on the UKBA website. Naturally, this may affect their ability to secure contracts as potential clients may check the website to see if an employer has come to adverse notice.
In addition to publishing lists of employers fined for employing illegal workers, the UKBA is also highlighting successful raids on employers in the news section of their website. The link to the news section is on the UKBA's home page and the news items mention the names of companies where illegal workers have been found.
We can advise employers on all aspects of illegal working, carry out an audit of existing staff; prepare a policy document on best recruitment and HR practices and enable employers to be compliant with the law and regulations on illegal working. We can provide dedicated training on the relevant law.
We can also provide immediate advice for employers who are notified by the UKBA of liability to pay a fine and can challenge the level of the fine or in certain circumstances have it withdrawn. We have an enviable success rate in challenging civil penalty cases for organisations all over England and Wales.