UK Home Office New Employer Penalties for Employing Illegal Workers

Since the Immigration Act 2016 came into force, a range of enforcement measures have been implemented by the Home Office to show the Government’s intentions to toughen up their operational enforcement activities against illegal workers. The Government not only places a high expectation on workers themselves to comply with immigration rules, they also place a high expectation on UK employers to take all reasonable steps to ensure that they are not employing illegal immigrants. As a responsible employer, you must take all necessary and reasonable step to ensure that your are not employing illegal workers.

UK employers compliance legal advice from LEXVISA London Immigration Solicitors

UK Employer: Your Responsibilities as an A-rated Sponsor Licence Holder

As a responsible employer, you are expected to check your employees properly. You must carry out thoroughly ‘right to work‘ checks for all of your employees to ensure that you are not employing illegal workers. The ‘right to work’ checks generally include the following 3 steps:

  1. Checking your employees’ (or potential employee’s) documents;
  2. Take a copy of all their relevant documents;
  3. Ensure that you are reasonably satisfied that your workers are in the UK legally and are allowed to work for your business.

When you check your workers’ documents, you must ensure that original and genuine documents have been provided. Further, you must ensure that your workers will not be in breach of any immigration conditions if they were to be working for you. For example, you must ensure that they have permission to enter and stay in the UK and that their visa is still valid. Apart from the dates of validly, you must also ensure that their visa type actually allows them to work for you in certain type of work. Immigration Rules may be complicated in application, if you are ensure whether certain rules apply to you, you should always seek legal advice from our experienced immigration solicitors. You must apply for a Sponsor Licence if you wish to employ foreign workers. Once you have obtained an A-rated Sponsor Licence, you will be in a position to sponsor workers and to apply for the appropriate work visa for them.

After you have checked their original documentation, you should always keep a record of this. If you develop doubts about their right to work at any point, you should always take further steps to make sure that they did not have a right to work. You can take these steps by reading further on how to carry our right to work checks or contact qualified legal professionals for legal advice.

UK Employer: Home Office Penalties for Employing Illegal Workers

The primary sanction for employers when they have been found employing illegal workers is a civil penalty. The maximum amount of civil penalty has increased from £10,000 per illegal worker to £20,000 per illegal worker since the Immigration Act 2014 came into force. Furthermore, it has been made an offence for an employer to employ illegal workers if they had any reasonable cause to believe that the worker had no right to work in the UK. If an employer is found guilty of this offence, the maximum custodial sentence on indictment is currently 5 years.

Since 1 December 2016, apart from having the power to prosecute illegal workers and employers who employ illegal workers, an immigration officer will now have the power to close down premises for up to 48 hours if employers ‘continue to flout the law by employing illegal workers and evading sanctions‘. Following this initial closure notice, the Home Office also has the power to seek continued closure notice from the courts and to impose special compliance requirements on the employers.

It is clear that the Government is further making it more difficult for illegal immigrants to work and live in the UK. As an employer, not only will these penalties affect your business financially, they will also affect your business’s reputation. Further, immigration offences may put a damper on your other licence applications, e.g. alcohol or premise licences, as this can potentially raise grounds for refusing an application or revocation of your licences if you are already a licence holder.

UK Employer: Legal Advice from LEXVISA Immigration Solicitors

As outlined above, you can see that an employer may face serious penalties if they are found to be employing illegal workers. These penalties will affect your business financially and in other aspects. Therefore, it will be important for employers to ensure that they are complying with all the relevant laws such that they can avoid having such penalties imposed against them.

Our business immigration team are regularly instructed to carry our compliance audit for business owners in the UK. We can ensure that not only your business will remain compliant with you relevant Immigration Rules,  we will also be able to provide bespoke advice for each specific situation. Running a business is not easy but it can be made easier. We are entrepreneurs ourselves and have the right business connections and experience available to you at the outset. We have a network of business experts that will strive to help you succeed.  As well as legal advice, we can provide you with an array of carefully selected business advice recommendations, from accounting to investment advice, tax advice and business plan development and management consultancy services. If you have any doubts, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration lawyers.

Successful Sponsor Licence Applications and Right to Work Checks

Our team of experienced and professionally qualified solicitors and barristers will be able to successfully guide you through any relevant process step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of the law. Please always call us for a telephone case assessment even if you wish to consider other advisers. If you wish to consider your options, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your matter and if necessary advise you of the next steps you should take in a consultation.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

We can ensure that you remain compliant with your employer duties and responsibilities. Get in touch with our business immigration lawyers now on 02071830570. You can also reach us via our contact form.

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