The insolvency service has produced a number of recent press releases confirming directors’ disqualifications after they were found to be employing illegal workers.
An Oldham Councillor has been disqualified from acting as director for a period of six years from 7 September 2016 following the employment of illegal workers. An investigation by the Insolvency Service discovered that the company had not complied with the statutory obligations imposed by the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act, which resulted in the recruitment of three illegal workers. This breach was discovered by Home Office immigration officers, which led to a civil penalty of £15,000 being issued.
Similarly, a restaurant owner has been disqualified from acting as director for six years from 15 September 2016 following his employment of two illegal workers in breach of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act. The Home Office Immigration Enforcement Officers visited the restaurant and found that he was employing two workers who were not eligible to work in the UK.
By virtue of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, employers are responsible for ensuring that their companies do not employ workers who do not have the right to work within the UK. An employer that negligently employs someone who is not entitled to work in the UK is liable to a civil penalty which is currently a fine of up to £10,000 in respect of each individual.
An employer that knowingly employs someone who is not entitled to work in the UK will commit a criminal offence and could be liable to a custodial sentence of up to two years and/or an unlimited fine.
As a result, employers will want to ensure that systems are in place to undertake, and prove that it has undertaken, checks on workers to establish their entitlement to work prior to recruitment.
It is also worth noting that an employer that acquires employees as a result of TUPE must carry out its own checks to avoid the civil penalty (when previously such an employer could rely on any checks on the employees' immigration status carried out by the previous employer before the transfer).