Proposals for £20,000 penalty for per illegal employee

Since 2008, employers have had a responsibility to check that their employees have the right to work in the UK. Employers who fail to do so face civil penalties, principally fines. On 9 July 2013, the Home Office launched a consultation on measures they claim will get tougher on employers who continue to employ those who do not have permission to work in the UK.

The ‘refined’ measures include:

  • increasing the size of the maximum financial penalties;
  • changes to how the penalty is calculated;
  • clarification and addition of ‘mitigating factors’;
  • improving the recovery of penalties and changes to the objection and appeal system;
  • reducing the range of acceptable documents for checking purposes to focus on Biometric Residence Permits (non-EEA nationals);
  • replacing annual follow-up check on employees with time-limited permission to work in the UK with checks when their permission is due to expire.

The Home Office is proposing to double the maximum available civil penalty to £20,000 for each illegal worker. The proposal is to retain two mitigating factors when calculating the final penalty; each one leading to a reduction of £5,000 in the civil penalty.

The proposed mitigating factors are: reporting the suspected illegal workers to the Employer Helpline, for which the employer would receive a reference number; and active co-operation with the Home Office’s investigation; and a partial check also currently counts as a mitigating factor. A partial check covers the circumstances where an employer has only checked and copied one of a specified combination of documents, or failed to carry out a follow-up check when a full check had been undertaken at the start of employment. The Home Office proposes to stop using a partial check as a mitigating factor.

The Home Office also proposes to require students to present acceptable evidence of their term dates as part of the right to work checks. This is in order to:

– prevent students from working in breach of their visa conditions;

– make it easier for employers to understand the limits on students‟ ability to work; and

– support students in demonstrating their ability to work.

Closing date for this consultation is 20 August 2013 and proposals will be taken forward through the Immigration Bill in autumn 2013 and in secondary legislation in early 2014.

If you are in the UK with no right to work, contact us today for advice on how you may obtain right to work in the UK.

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