A number of changes under the Immigration Act 2016 are now set to come into force, including extended criminal offences for employers in relation to illegal working.
Employers are increasingly concerned about the rising penalties for engaging workers who do not have the right to work in the UK. The complexity of the checks that employers must undertake to establish an employee’s right to work mean that mistakes are common place.
In many cases, the law is fairly clear. At one end of the spectrum, all individuals in the UK, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to basic human rights. At the other end, the law says that an individual should not be allowed to profit from their unlawful activity.
On 16 May 2014, a number of significant changes to the UK’s prevention of illegal working requirements and associated civil penalty scheme took force.
In 2008, the government introduced a system of civil penalties for employers who employ illegal migrant workers. The legislation was designed to encourage employers to prevent illegal working without criminalising those who make honest mistakes in operating their recruitment and employment practices.
Employers’ duty to prevent illegal working is underpinned by a civil penalty regime which is now being reviewed with a raft of Government proposals aimed at strengthening and simplifying the system.