Today, it has been reported that three men had been taken into custody after Immigration Officers raided the Chinese restaurant they were employed by. Two of the Chinese men have been detained for over 6 weeks after background checks on them suggested that they were working illegally. Since the Immigration Bill received the Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 the civil penalty for employing illegal workers has doubled 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.
Employers have a Responsibility to Prevent Illegal Working in the UK
The Water Lily Chinese restaurant was subject to an immigration raid on 28 August 2014. Three of the staff members were taken into custody after background checks on them suggested that they were working in the UK illegally. Two of the men have been allegedly accused of overstaying their visa and are currently still in detention. Whilst the third man has allegedly been working in breach of his visa conditions. However, he has been granted temporary release whilst the investigation progresses.
The restaurant based in Cavendish Street, Barrow, has been served with a notice warning. This states that the employer faces a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker arrested if they fail to prove that the correct right-to-work checks were carried out, such as seeing a Home Office document or passport.
As an employer, you have a responsibility to prevent illegal working in the UK by ensuring that your employees have the right to work in the UK. The illegal working provisions of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (‘the Act’) came into force on 29 February 2008. Under Section 15 of the Act, the Secretary of State is allowed serve employers with a notice requiring the payment of a penalty of a specified amount where they employ a person aged 16 or over who is subject to immigration control.
UK Businesses Need to Carry out Thorough Immigration Checks
Statistics show that 1,822 civil penalty notices were issued to British employers between January and December 2013 which represents a 50% increase on the previous 12 months, when 1,216 penalties were imposed. The value of penalties issued – £14,107,750 – was up 31% on the £10,775,500 recouped by the Home Office in 2012.
Speaking on the data, Derek Kelly, managing director of Parasol stated:
“These findings illustrate the heightened level of scrutiny that employers are now under when it comes to illegal working. More than ever, it’s vital that companies carry out thorough checks and follow the correct procedures when hiring foreign nationals.”
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.
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.