Further to our post last week on the Immigration Act 2016
Are You Ready For Tomorrow"), UK Visas and Immigration
have published a report showing the total number of civil penalties
given to employers in the second half of 2015 for illegally
employing workers. The report shows that, between 1 July 2015 and
31 December 2015, 1,820 workers were working illegally. This
resulted in the issue of 1,271 penalties to employers, totalling
fines of £21.5 million.
Recent reports suggest the Home Office is now refining its focus
and targeting large, corporate organisations for breaches of their
immigration responsibilities in order to make the most of a
potentially large pot of revenue. This serves as a stark reminder
that, if caught out, employers could face a fine of up to
£20,000 per illegal worker and two to five years in prison.
Not to mention the potential damage to their reputation and the
effect such a penalty may have on the status of an employer's
sponsor licence. The offences will apply irrespective of whether
employers engage the individuals as employees, apprentices or under
a contract to personally perform work or services.
It may seem obvious that employing workers illegally will result
in severe ramifications. However, simple mistakes are becoming
increasingly costly for employers. The Home Office is penalising
many organisations for simple flaws in their immigration processes
(for example, failing to hold the relevant paperwork or for holding
The recent enforcement of certain provisions of the Immigration
Act 2016 provides significant changes which are likely to give the
UK Home Office greater ability to pursue civil, as well as
criminal, proceedings against employers who engage illegal workers.
Therefore, it is evermore important for employers to ensure they
adopt compliant HR processes. In particular, we recommend that
take complete copies of all relevant documents;
record the inspection date of these documents (but avoid
keep copies of these documents for the entirety of the
employment and for two years post-termination;
regularly check the visa status of employees to ensure the
validity has not expired or changed;
ensure that all areas of the business follow the immigration
processes strictly; and
carry out a mock audit to identify where the risks lie.
By following these steps and taking action to resolve any
issues, employers will be in a better position to avoid any
penalties if and when they come under the spotlight.
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The employment landscape is one that is constantly shifting. Employers who fail to keep up with the changes do so at their peril.
This seminar is designed to help in-house counsel and HR practitioners get to grips with key recent and forthcoming developments in employment, pensions and immigration law and practice and what they mean for your workforce.
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