Businesses employing illegal migrants risk a fine which is set to increase to £20,000 per illegal employee under new measures unveiled this month by the UK Government. This in addition to other tough measures is intended to aid the UKBA in tackling illegal working which is believed to encourage illegal immigration and overstaying.
Employing Illegals: UK Government’s Toughened Measures
Proposals being considered to toughen civil penalties for businesses employing illegal migrants are:
- The maximum penalty for employing illegal workers has increased to £20,000;
- Simplifying the way civil penalties are calculated;
- Simplifying the way unpaid penalties can be enforced in the civil courts; and
- Measures to allow recovery of a civil penalty from directors and partners of limited liability businesses following failure to pay by the businesses.
UKBA Getting Tough on Employing Illegal Migrants
The proposals outlined in the latest consultation will form part of the Immigration Bill, being introduced later this year.
The UK’s Immigration Minister Mark Harper has said: “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.”
UK Government’s Proposals For Legitimate Employers
At the same time, the government has unveiled the following proposals to help legitimate businesses:
- reducing the number of documents an employer needs to check to establish a migrant has a right to work;
- replacing annual follow-up checks for non-EEA nationals with ones to coincide with the expiry of permission to be in the country;
- Simplifying the operation of the scheme and the guidance for employers; and
- Helping prevent undercutting by rogue employers.
Pilot Scheme for Illegal Immigrants to Leave the UK
The Government has also launched a pilot scheme intended to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the UK voluntarily.
Vans displaying large adverts will be driven around Hounslow, Barking & Dagenham, Ealing, Barnet, Brent and Redbridge highlighting the advantages of returning home. This is clearly a means to scare illegal workers and make it more difficult for people to live and work in the UK illegally. There is also a planned increase in the number of enforcement officers arresting, detaining and removing people with no right to be in the UK.
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 UKBA by putting forward any mitigation and referring to the law and statutory rules surrounding the levy of the fines. As ever llegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible.