The United Kingdom places a significant emphasis on maintaining a fair and lawful workforce. Employers and individuals alike are expected to adhere to regulations outlined by the Home Office to ensure that employment is granted only to those with the legal right to work in the country.

A new draft code of practice on preventing illegal working has been laid before Parliament and is expected to come into force on 22 January 2024. This draft aims to address the issue of employers hiring individuals without the legal right to work, imposing higher fines and stricter restrictions to deter unlawful employment practices.

Key Changes Proposed in the Draft Code of Practice:

  1. Increased Penalty Fines: One of the focal points of the draft code is the significant increase in fines for employers found hiring illegal workers. The new fines are set to rise to a maximum of £45,000 per illegal worker, up from the current £15,000. Any repeating breach could lead to fines as high as £60,000 per migrant worker, in contrast to the current £20,000. Note, employers issued with a penalty will continue to be listed in the Home Office quarterly report which is available online.
  2. Stricter Restrictions: The draft introduces stricter restrictions on employers who are found to have violated right-to-work regulations. This may include limitations on hiring practices, probationary periods for compliance, and increased scrutiny in future hiring processes.
  3. Enhanced Right-to-Work Checks: The draft code emphasises the importance of thorough and comprehensive right-to-work checks for all employees. Employers are encouraged to be vigilant in verifying the authenticity of documentation and ensuring that they meet the legal requirements.

As the UK Government takes a stronger stance against illegal employment practices, employers must be proactive in adapting to the changing regulatory landscape. The new draft code of practice, with its higher fines and stricter restrictions, underscores the importance of prioritizing compliance and conducting thorough right-to-work checks. Consequently, it is vital to conduct accurate right-to-work checks on every employee, encompassing British nationals, EU citizens, and non-EEA nationals.

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