Business Law & Compliance

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What you need to know about illegal working and the civil penalty system

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These changes are intended to both strengthen and simplify the regime 

Employers will benefit from the reduction of required checks and extension of grace periods. However, more severe penalties for repeat offenders, while not unreasonable, create the potential for staggering fines for employers who unintentionally breach multiple times for different reasons 

Some of the most significant amendments include:

The maximum civil penalty has been raised from £10,000 to £15,000 per illegal worker, with subsequent breaches in a three-year period carrying a maximum fine of £20,000

The requirement to conduct an annual check for employees with a time-limited right to work has been replaced with the introduction of a check at the point that the individual’s work permission expires

The grace period for employers to conduct right to work checks on employees acquired, as a result of the TUPE Regulations, has been increased from 28 to 60 days

Employers who believe an employee has filed an in-time extension application or appeal against an immigration decision now have a 28-day grace period, from the date of expiration of the employee’s work permission document, to conduct a follow-up check

The prescribed documents for right to work checks in List A and List B of the Code of Practice have been simplified, removing certain documents

A partial right to work check is no longer a mitigating factor in the calculation of a civil penalty

To ensure compliance and avoid penalties, employers should consult with an immigration specialist in order to review their right to work check procedures and update them as required

Natasha Chell is Partner at Laura Devine Solicitors.

Recommended reading: NOL notices rise due to amended Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act

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