Tougher penalties for employing illegal workers from July

A NEW law will make it harder for people to live and work illegally in the UK and increase the custodial sentences on employing illegal workers.

Provisions of the Immigration Act 2016 which will be brought into force on 12 July 2016 will make it a criminal offence for illegal migrants to undertake employment and allow the authorities to seize their earnings.

The law will also be extended to punish employers who have “a reasonable cause to believe” that a person is an illegal worker in addition to convicting those who “knowingly” do so. The measures include increasing the custodial sentences from two to five years and doubling the maximum civil penalty to £20,000 per illegal worker.

Nicola Butterworth, Employment Law expert with Howes Percival comments:

“In the financial year 2014/2015 Immigration Enforcement issued 1,974 civil penalties to businesses employing illegal workers. In light of the increased penalties employers should ensure that extra care is taken to ensure that the proper right to work due diligence checks are carried out prior to engaging workers.”

Under the regulations, a Director of Labour Market Enforcement will be set up. The Director will be tasked with overseeing and co-ordinating enforcement of worker exploitation legislation by the three main bodies responsible and producing an annual labour market enforcement strategy

Another employment provision, which does not have a commencement date, would require public authorities to ensure public workers in customer-facing roles speak fluent English.