UK companies will generally be aware of their responsibility not to employ workers who do not have appropriate permissions to work in the UK. As part of this duty, organisations are required to undertake, document and retain right-to-work checks on all workers as part of their recruitment processes. Where illegal working is found to have occurred, the Home Office may issue civil penalties of up to £20,000 in respect of each illegal worker and can also pursue criminal proceedings, closure notices and compliance orders in serious cases.

The Home Office has also recently exercised its power to issue disqualification orders for 20 directors of 16 businesses in a new countrywide crackdown on illegal working. 18 directors received six year disqualifications, and two received seven-year bans, following the imposition of fines which remained unpaid. These fines totalled £505,000, with an average penalty of between £10,000 and £15,000 for each illegal worker. This may signal a shifting approach to enforcement from the Home Office, who appear ready to pursue individuals who may bear responsibility for facilitating illegal working.

A press release from the Insolvency Service can be found here.