The Home Office is working closely with employers to raise awareness of their responsibilities in tackling illegal working. They want to toughen civil penalties against dishonest businesses employing illegal migrants. This is part of the government’s bigger plan to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to live and work in the United Kingdom and in turn to allow the immigration policy to benefit the systems in the UK, for example the health and housing system.
Legal Duties On Employers/Business Owners
As an employer or a business owner it is your responsibility to follow the law set out in sections 15 to 25 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, which came into action on 29 February 2008. The reasons for these rules are to make it harder for people who have no right to work in the UK, make it easier for employers to ensure they are hiring people who are legally allowed to work in the UK and lastly strengthen the Government’s control of tackling illegal working.
It is the employer’s duty to carry out document checks to confirm a person’s right to work in the UK, also if they have a time limit on their stay, there should regular checks.
Speaking on illegal workers, Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister stated:
“This government is committed to taking action to effectively tackle illegal working. Illegal working encourages illegal Immigration; it undercuts legitimate businesses by illegal cost-cutting activity, and is often associated with exploitative behaviour like tax evasion and harmful working conditions. We will not allow the growth of a shadow economy for illegal migrants, so we are proposing to get tougher on employers who exploit illegal labour. At the same time, we want to make it easier for legitimate businesses by reducing the administrative costs of complying with right to work checks.”
Consequences & Penalties of Failing to Carry out Immigration Checks
Currently, if employers do not follow the rules under the 2006 Act they may have to pay a fine of up to £10,000 for each illegal migrant worker. The introduction of the Immigration Bill will now see this sum increase to £20,000 per illegal employee.
According to the Home Office’s figures, over 8,500 penalties were issued between 2008/09 and 2012/13, totalling £79,300,000. The businesses that have received the most penalties include restaurants, take-aways, car washes, factories, food producers and small shops. Over 150 supermarkets were also fined for having illegal workers.
A spokesperson for the Home Office stated:
“The government is determined to take effective action to reduce illegal migration, and to tackle illegal working. Giving employers hefty fines if they employ illegal immigrants is a key part of this.”
Legal Advice for Migrants and Employers
Employers who are facing fines may wish to instruct a specialist solicitor who can negotiate the level of fines down with the Home Office by putting forward any mitigation and referring to the law and statutory rules surrounding the levy of the fines. As ever illegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible.