Under new measures introduced to tackle illegal working in the UK, the Home Office has doubled the civil penalty for employing illegal workers, meaning that employers now face fines of £20,000 per illegal worker found on their payroll.
Employers that are convicted of ‘knowingly employing’ illegal workers face even tougher punishments of up to two years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
However, employers who can prove they carried out the correct right-to-work checks will not be penalised, and the Home Office is urging businesses to familiarise themselves with the process to protect themselves from fines and prosecution.
Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said:
"Illegal working is a key driver of illegal immigration. It is not a victimless crime. It defrauds the taxpayer, undercuts honest employers and cheats job seekers out of employment opportunities. Doubling the maximum penalty for those who hire illegal workers sends out a strong message to those who break the rules.
“At the same time as getting tougher on rogue employers, we want to support legitimate ones by making it easier for them to check the immigration status of potential employees by using our new online tool.”
In order to help employers establish if an applicant has the right to work in the UK, the Home Office has developed a new interactive online tool which gives details on the documents that should be checked.
It has also produced a three-step guide to conducting a right-to-work checks correctly:
1) Obtain the right documents – the types of documents that must be checked depend whether the person has restrictions on their right to live and work in the UK. The Home Office has produced guidance on the lists of acceptable documents and when to check these.
2) Check the documents are valid
You need to check that:
- the documents are originals, genuine and refer to the applicant
- the dates for the worker’s right to work in the UK have not expired
- photos are the same across all documents and look like the applicant
- dates of birth are the same across all documents
- the person has permission to do the type of work you’re offering (including any limit on the number of hours they can work)
- all documents are current (other than those issued to UK, EEA and Swiss nationals and Permanent Residence Cards issued to family members of EEA nationals)
- if two documents give different names, supporting documents show why this is e.g. marriage or divorce.
3) Copy and keep the copied documents for your records
When you copy the documents:
- make a copy that can’t be changed, e.g. a photocopy
- for passports, copy any page with the expiry date, applicant’s personal details including nationality, date of birth, name, photograph and signature together with the current immigration endorsement (e.g. a work visa) copied on both sides
- for all other documents, make a complete copy
- keep copies during the worker’s employment and for two years after the person stops working for you
If a worker is unable to produce the necessary documents, employers are encouraged to use the Home Office’s Employer Checking Service.