With the migrant crisis being headline daily news, it should be noted that the government has published the Immigration Bill 2015-2016. This intended legislation contains proposals to curb illegal working and protect the exploitation of migrant workers, as outlined in the Queen's speech which was delivered on 27 May 2015.
In particular, the Bill:-
- proposes extending the existing criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant to apply where an employer has "reasonable cause to believe" that a person is an illegal worker. Conviction on indictment for this offence would increase from two to five years.
- creates a new offence of illegal working which will enable the earnings of illegal workers to be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
- will give the Secretary of State the power to introduce an "immigration skills charge" on certain employers who sponsor skilled workers from outside of the European Economic Area. This is in order to address the current skills gap in the UK workforce.
- requires public authorities to ensure that public sector workers in customer-facing roles speak fluent English.
Guidance will be provided in a code of practice which the government will be consulting on in parallel with the passage of the Bill through Parliament.