This month, the UK government announced its intention to toughen civil penalties for businesses employing illegal migrants. From 1 May 2014, employers will have to act in accordance to tougher proceedings and further compliance requirements from the government. This includes the civil penalty for employing illegal workers doubling from £10,000 to £20,000. In addition, employers face a fine of £20,000 for paying below the national minimum wage, this is sharp rise from the previous fine of £5,000. These changes is the government’s solution to curb illegal working and warn employers to take the issue more seriously.
UK Businesses: Ways to Prevent Hiring Illegal Workers
Not only can employers face a hefty financial penalty, they risk adverse media attention by their business’s details being published by Immigration Enforcement. The penalty is used to deter other businesses from employing illegal workers, as well as punish those who have employed illegal workers. If an employer willingly hires an illegal worker they could face a possible jail sentence for up to 2 years, in addition to paying a fine.
To prevent illegal working which could have significant consequences and damaging effects on a business, it is important for employers to check that the documents provided as proof of authorization to work in the UK, have the following:
- All documents provided by the employee should be valid;
- Employers must ensure that any documents which have photos, are indeed photos of the employee;
- Employers must check that the date of birth on documents is consistent with the employee’s appearance;
- Employers must ensure that visas obtained by the employee covers the type of work they will be doing, this includes the number of hours they can work; and
- If documents provided by the employee have different names, they should be able to give good reasons for this, for example marriage or divorce.
Avoiding Unlawful Discrimination While Preventing Illegal Working
It is important employers do not discriminate against selected candidates because of their name, nationality, racial background, accent and ensure that they have an open and transparent recruitment policy.
The revised version of the statutory code of practice for employers, advises employers to ask potential employees to prove their right to work in the UK and not make assumptions about immigration status.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“A key part of our long-term plan is making sure our economy delivers for people who do the right thing, so everyone who wants to work hard can get on in life. The changes we are making today will help stop practices which exploit vulnerable workers and undercut local businesses that play by the rules. They will give workers in Britain a fair crack of the whip when it comes to getting a job themselves. That means more economic security for people across our country.”
Immigration Legal Advice for UK Employers & Illegal Workers
If you are a UK business and have been affected by the Home Office’s raids, contact us to discuss this further. Business owners sponsoring migrants from outside the EEA must ensure that they are legally registered to sponsor migrants and must have a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. If the Home Office has contacted you in relation to carrying out a compliance visit at your business premises, contact us for legal advice.
Illegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible and before it is too late. Contact us to discuss your immigration situation and we will assess your case and provide you with options of regularising your stay.