The Government published a consultation in July this year on proposals to strengthen and simplify the current civil penalty scheme which is aimed at preventing illegal migrant working. Employers already have a responsibility to check that their employees have a right to work in the UK and this has been in force since 1997. Since 2008 this has been strengthened by a civil penalty scheme that imposes sanctions on employers who employ illegal immigrants. Kate Fretten, Employment partner says, “There will be tougher civil penalties introduced on employers who continue to exploit illegal migrant labour and it is proposed to significantly reduce the administrative costs of conducting right-to-work checks.”
The proposals to toughen the civil penalty scheme include:
- Increasing the maximum penalty from £10,000 to £20,000 per illegal worker – targeted at employers who repeatedly break the rules
- Simplifying the way civil penalties are calculated
- Simplifying the way unpaid penalties can be enforced in the civil courts
- Introducing measures to allow recovery of a civil penalty from directors and partners of limited liability businesses following failure to pay by the business.
The Government further proposes to help business by:
- Reducing the list of acceptable documentation for right-to-work checking purposes (eliminating older and less secure documents which are open to forgery, and working towards the use of biometric residence permits for right-to-work checks for most non-EEA nationals
- Replacing annual follow-up checks for non-EEA nationals, with checks to coincide with the expiry of permission to be in the UK
- Simplifying the operation of the scheme and guidance for employers
The reforms are expected to be included in the Immigration Bill later this year and introduced in early 2014.
For a free initial meeting please call 01202 499255 and Kate or Paul in our Employment team, who will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.