Initial penalty for employing somebody who does not have the right to work in the U.K. will rise to £45,000 from £15,000 in 2024
The government has tripled the fines for employers hiring people who do not have the right to work in the U.K. in a bid to clamp down on illegal immigration.
Employers will face an initial fine of £45,000 for each worker without lawful immigration status from the start of 2024, up from £15,000 now. Repeated breaches will attract a penalty of £60,000 compared to £20,000 previously.
Before the new fines come into effect, the Home Office will launch a consultation on actions that could be strengthened to deter licensed businesses from employing workers without lawful immigration status. Offenders can even be sent to jail for five years and pay an unlimited fine if they are found guilty of employing someone who they knew or had "reasonable cause to believe" did not have the right to work in the U.K., according to guidance posted on the government website.
This includes, for example, if they had any reason to believe that:
- they did not have leave or permission to enter or remain in the U.K.
- their leave had expired
- they were not allowed to do certain types of work
- their papers were incorrect or false
You can also be penalised if you employ someone who does not have the right to work and you did not do the correct checks, or you did not do them properly, according to the government.
Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick said that anyone employing overseas workers must ensure they are following all the legal requirements.
"There is no excuse for not conducting the appropriate checks and those in breach will now face significantly tougher penalties," he said.
"All employers must ensure prospective employees have the right to work in the U.K. before they commence work. These checks must be conducted for all workers, regardless of their country of origin."
The tougher fines have been put forward by the government's immigration taskforce, which was launched at the start of this year. The taskforce assessed whether immigration checks on the labour market should be strengthened.
"Making it harder for illegal migrants to work and operate in the U.K. is vital to deterring dangerous, unnecessary small boat crossings", Immigration Minister Jenrick said.
A total of 88,682 migrants crossed the English Channel using small boats from the start of 2018 until the end of the first quarter of 2023, according to government data published with the Illegal Migration Act. Net migration in the U.K. climbed 24 percent in 2022 to a record 606,000, according to figures released in May.
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