To avoid civil and criminal liabilities, all employers regardless of whether they are a licenced sponsor or not must understand who can work in the UK without permission. If a business is found to be employing workers who do not have the correct permission to work in the UK or who have restrictions on how many hours they can work, it will be subject to a range of UKVI penalties.
Sanctions for Businesses
The following are the possible UKVI penalties that UK businesses and key personnel may face:
- Civil penalties of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker;
- Revocation of Sponsor Licence after which an application for a new licence can only be made 12 months after the revocation date;
- Prosecution for possessing an ID document (or a copy of it) that is false or improperly obtained (you could face up to 2 years imprisonment and/or receive unlimited fine);
- Disqualification as a company director; and
- If the Home Office need to take action to enforce payment of a civil penalty, this could adversely affect the business or key personnel’s ability to obtain credit.
The above list is not exhaustive and businesses that are found to be employing illegal workers with no permission to work in the UK will be listed on the Home Office’s website with full details of the penalties they received. Businesses should, therefore, consider seeking legal advice to ensure that they are compliant with Home Office and UKVI regulations or they may face harsh penalties and loss of reputation.
Right to Work Check
Employers must ensure all their overseas employees provide immigration documents which confirm their right to reside in the UK lawfully and without limitations to work. In some instances, employee’s may have a limited work capacity (i.e. students on Tier 4 visas are only permitted to work 20 hours per week). One way of ensuring your employees have the correct permission to work is by conducting a Right to Work check. The new Home Office guide sets out what an employer needs to know about conducting Right to Work checks. It provides guidance on what right to work checks are and why it is important that employers do them. It also explains on whom an employer needs to make checks, how frequently they need to do so, and how to do the checks correctly.
The Home Office updated guide on the checks states that should be conducted by the employer include the following steps must be undertaken;
- Employers must obtain the employee’s original documents as prescribed in the Home Office guidance;
- Check in the presence of the employee that the documents are original and valid; and
- Copy and keep the documents securely and record the date of the check and date for follow-up checks.
It should be noted that all of the above steps must be conducted if employers wish to be able to establish or retain an excuse against a liability for a civil penalty for employing a person who is not permitted to work in the UK.
Challenging UKVI Penalties
Our business immigration team are regularly instructed by organisations who have received notice from the Home Office of a possible sanction. If you have been issued with a civil penalty/fine for employing illegal migrants, our expert immigration solicitors can consider your options with you including whether the penalty can be challenged or reduced.
If you receive a Civil Penalty Notice and you want to object, you will be given 28 days from the date given in your notice to do so. Our expert immigration team have considerable experience in preparing detailed representations objecting to the issuance of a penalty and/or the amount which is due under the penalty.
We are an Immigration law firm based in Middle Temple, London and our solicitors are fully authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Contact our specialist immigration team today and we can offer you a consultation in person or via telephone or Skype so we can explore your options. You can leave us a message on our Contact Form or give us a call on 02071830570.