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 and the Home Office UK Border Agency website has been updated to show a list of employers fined since the introduction of the revised penalties. The website which lists employers fined, by region, will be updated on a monthly basis.
From 29 February 2008, the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 increased the civil penalty which can be imposed on an employer to a maximum of £10,000 (previously £5,000) for every illegal worker employed in the UK. It also introduced a new criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal worker, with a maximum penalty of two years in prison or an unlimited fine. Details of the current requirements are set out below.
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. A significant change is that since 29 February 2008 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.