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Rise in prosecutions for employing illegal workers

Businesses are being warned to undertake more rigorous checks into applicants’ backgrounds as the number of prosecutions for employing illegal workers increased over 500%, according to Giant Precision a business process outsourcer.

According to information they obtained from the Home Office, the introduction in February 2008 of the new penalty system has led to 233 prosecutions of employers for employing illegal workers. This compares with no more than 40 cases per year previously.

Matthew Brown, Managing Director of Giant Precision said:

“The new civil penalty for employers who hire illegal immigrants has made a big difference to the UK Border Agency’s activity in bringing cases against employers. More employers than ever before are finding themselves hit with big fines. 

The new regulations are tough on employers and recruiters who may have checked into candidate’s backgrounds and been duped by fraudulent documents. Even if checks are carried out, the UK Border Agency can still levy fines if it deems recruiters and employers have not been sufficiently rigorous.”

For many years, there have been requirements for employers to verify the identity of their workers in order to prevent illegal working. Penalties under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 were increased from 29 February 2008. The Home Office UK Border Agency website is regularly updated to show a list of employers fined since the introduction of the revised penalties. 

Employers can avoid both a civil penalty and committing a criminal offence by checking, on recruitment, that workers have a right to work in the UK. To obtain this protection, employers must make the checks before the worker starts work.

There are two lists of acceptable documents for checking identity. List A contains items such as a British passport, which have no time limits on working in the UK. List B contains a list of documents which carry restrictions on the amount of time individuals will be able to spend in the UK. Employers now have to carry out annual checks for those workers whose documents appear on List B, such as work permit holders.

Please do get in touch if you would like any advice in this area.

Internet links: Giant Precision press release Home Office Guidance and Home office list of employers fined

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