In the most substantial shake-up of civil penalties since 2014, fines for employing somebody who does not have the right to work in the UK are set to triple from 13 February 2024. Employers are strongly encouraged to consider taking measures that will help prevent illegal working within their business.
From 13 February 2024, penalties for employers hiring individuals without appropriate immigration permission will be as follows:
- For a first breach, the maximum penalty per illegal worker will increase from £15,000 to £45,000.
- For repeat breaches, the maximum penalty per illegal worker will rise from £20,000 to £60,000.
Consequences beyond Financial Impact
While the financial repercussions of employing illegal workers are substantial, both employers and employees should also be mindful of the possible broader impacts, which could include:
- Revocation or suspension of your organisations sponsor licence impacting hiring capabilities and putting existing sponsored workers at risk of having their visas curtailed;
- Business continuity issues due to workplace disruption or impact on future business opportunities;
- Temporary closure of business premises;
- Disqualification as a director;
- Seizure of earnings made as a result of illegal working;
- Reputational damage due to non-compliance;
- In serious cases, criminal convictions carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years
We recommend that employers proactively consider a range of measures to prevent and mitigate against the risk of illegal working within their business. Possible measures could include undertaking a mock audit to identify and resolve potential issues, refining or tightening existing right to work check processes, improving employee communications or conducting staff training to help educate your personnel about immigration laws and proper right to work verification procedures.
If you would like to discuss these changes or further explore ways to help prevent illegal working within your business, get in touch with our Immigration Team here.
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