Our Immigration Team have been following recent news on the Home Office’s immigration raids closely. It seems that there are an increasing number of reports where businesses are being raided by the Home Office immigration enforcement team, but business owners are found not liable as they have carried out the correct right to work checks.
Employers have a duty to prevent illegal working and this is done by identifying potential employees who require permission to work in the UK and undertaking prescribed document checks before and during employment. Failure to do so could result in criminal and civil penalties for employers including fines and even imprisonment.
Raided Indian Restaurant found not liable
In news reports today, it was revealed that Indian restaurant ‘Blue Mint’, which is based in Epsom, was raided last year by immigration officers, but not fined or found to be liable by the Home Office. Two months after the raid Moin Uddin, the owner of Blue Mint, received a notice informing him that he was not liable and would not have to pay fines in relation to employing suspected illegal workers.
Following a raid on the Blue Mint, three men were arrested, two Bangladeshi men who worked for the restaurant and an Indian man, who lived above the restaurant but was not an employee. Speaking after receiebing news that his business was not liable, owner Moin Uddin, stated that immigration raids are “big news”and insisted that he had carried out the necessary checks before employing the workers.
“Business people suffer because people think we are deliberately employing illegal people. But the documents they provide, we check them to the best of our ability.”
The Home Office has confirmed that the restaurant owner was held to not be liable for the employment of the three arrested. They went further to explain that the men were found to be “immigration offenders”, but none of them are currently being held at an immigration detention.
UK Businesses: Ways to Prevent Hiring Illegal Workers
From 1 May 2014, employers have had 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. 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.
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.
Our Immigration Team understands that Home Office raids may cause your business to have negative publicity and as such advises that you are aware of your duties.