The Home Office published a draft code on prevention of illegal working, to make small businesses aware of the changes to their obligations to ensure that they are not employing someone who does not have the right to work in the UK. The changes to the civil penalty code came into force on 16 May 2014. Under the the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 employers are made aware of their responsibilities to prevent illegal working by ensuring that their employees have the right to work in the UK. However, if employers do not follow the necessary checks and employ an individual who does not have the right to work in the UK, they will face a civil penalty of £20,000 per worker. With the new code of practice already in effect, employers have new procedures to follow.
Overview of changes to the Civil Penalty for UK Businesses
The civil penalty scheme has been designed to encourage UK businesses to comply with the Immigration Rules to prevent illegal working by carrying out document checks.
- Civil Penalty Notice: If a business has been found employing an illegal worker(s), they may be issued with a notice informing them of the details of the case made against their business will be referred to officials whose responsibility is to administer the civil penalty scheme, to consider their liability for a civil penalty for breaching section 15 of the Act;
- Fast payment option: Businesses now have a fast payment option, which reduces their fine by 30 per cent if the Home Office receive payment in full within 21 days of the civil penalty notice;
- Installment payments: If a UK business has a penalty that will have an impact on the employer and they are unable to pay the fee in one sum, the employer will be able to pay the penalty in installments over an agreed period of time with the Home Office;
- Enforcement and Consequences: The Home Office will take action against businesses that fail to pay the penalty in full or by installments, or object or appeal, by the specified due dates. it should be noted that this course of action could have an adverse affect of the credibility on the business and the director. For example, If you are an employer who is subject to immigration control, you should also be aware that if you are liable for a civil penalty, this will be recorded on Home Office systems and may be taken into account when considering any future immigration application that you make.
Acceptable Documents for the Right to Work in the UK
The Home Office has also revised the list of documents into two parts list A and B.
List A: Details the documents needed for checking purposes for a person who has a permanent right to work in the UK. The statutory excuse will be for the whole duration of the employee’s employment with the business because there are no restrictions on their permission to be in the UK. They do not have to repeat the right to work check.
List B: Details the documents needed for checking purposes for a person who has temporary right to work in the UK. The statutory excuse will be limited because the employee has restrictions on their permission to be in the UK and to do the work in question.
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 these 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.