UK: Planned Crackdown on Businesses Hiring Illegal Workers

UK Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, has announced plans to crack down on businesses employing illegal workers by using the “full force of government machinery”. 

Recent government findings indicate that businesses who knowingly employ illegal migrants are also likely to be breaking other laws such as tax and health & safety.  The government strategy is therefore for different departments to work together to single out those unscrupulous employers who seek to gain “an unfair advantage” by breaking these laws. Once uncovered, this type of wrongdoing is subject to up to a £20,000 fine per person and/or jail for up to two years for companies who knowingly employ illegal workers.

It is therefore important for Tier 2 sponsors to ensure they are compliant from an immigration perspective, as unannounced audits will be on the increase.

Plans to carry out more company visits have already been announced, with bodies such as HM Revenues & Customs and Health and Safety Executive taking part alongside Immigration Enforcement Teams. 

The Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has called to make exploitation a crime: “Exploitation hurts everyone – those who are working hard and being exploited, other workers whose pay and jobs are undercut, and responsible employers who are undermined”. 

A 2009 study carried out for London Mayor, Boris Johnson, estimated that the UK had 618,000 “irregular residents”, with London accounting for about 70%.  The campaign group Migration Watch says a more likely figure is in the region of 1.1 million.

All employers are expected to conduct right to work checks prior to hiring a new staff member.  The Home Office run Employer Checking Service is a useful – and sometimes mandatory –  tool in determining whether a migrant has the correct right to work authorisation. 

Please contact us if you need any assistance with immigration compliance or other right to work queries. 

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