Government announces threefold increase in civil penalties for illegal employment
It is unlawful for employers to employ individuals who do not have the appropriate right to work and reside in the UK. If an employer employs someone without the right to undertake the work for which they are employed, they may be subject to a civil penalty. Furthermore, an employer will commit a criminal offence if it employs an individual who it either knows is an illegal worker, or who it has “reasonable cause to believe” does not have the appropriate immigration status.
An employer’s failure to prevent illegal working will now result in greater liability, with the Government recently announcing a threefold increase in the civil penalties that will apply to employers who fall foul of their obligations. These changes, which are expected to come into force at the beginning of 2024, will see civil penalties rise from £15,000 per illegal employee up to £45,000. Repeat breaches will attract a fine of up to £60,000, a penalty which is currently £20,000.
For employers, this announcement underscores the importance of conducting thorough right to work checks for all employees before and during employment. To comply with their obligation to prevent illegal working, employers must:
- Carry out right to work checks on all prospective employees before employment commences.
- Conduct follow-up checks on employees who have time-limited permission to live and work in the UK.
- Keep records of all the checks carried out.
- Not employ anyone they know or have reasonable cause to believe is an illegal worker.