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Plans to Increase Civil Penalty for Illegal Working

Since 2008 all UK employers have been required to carry out checks on their workers to ensure that they have the right to work in the UK.  If they fail to do so, a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per illegal worker can be imposed.  In an effort to eradicate illegal working, the Government has announced plans to strengthen this current system by increasing the civil penalty to a maximum of £20,000 per worker where the business has previously been fined and £15,000 per worker where it is a first offence. 

At present, the amount of the penalty is assessed against a sliding scale with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) having regard to a number of factors including whether any partial checks have been carried out.  This will be replaced with two clearly defined mitigating factors which, if established, will each require the penalty to be reduced by £5,000.  If the employer reports the illegal working of their own initiative and if they actively cooperate with the UKBA by promptly providing information, they may be able to secure a reduction of £10,000.  The plans also include extending liability for payment to directors and partners to prevent businesses avoiding payment of the penalty because of insolvency.  As well as taking a more robust approach towards those unscrupulous employers who permit illegal working, the Government intends to make it easier for law abiding employers to meet their obligation to carry out the checks.  The number of documents which will be accepted as proof of a right to work in the UK will be reduced and the requirement for annual checks will be replaced with a single follow up check to be performed at the expected date of expiry of the worker’s existing immigration permission. 

These proposed changes are subject to a public consultation which closes on 20th August 2013 and is available at:  http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/consultations/civil-penalties/

For more information please contact Martin Sinclair or Nicola Gray or call on 01224 632 464

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