The ONS has released the illegal working civil penalties data for the first quarter of 2017. The revenue raised was £5,900,000, prior to any adjustment following objections to the penalties. Given the population difference, it is not surprising that London and the South East had the highest number of penalties applied and illegal workers found but there were still large numbers issues in the Midlands and North West as well.
Considering the value of these penalties to the Government it is no wonder that immigration compliance is a central focus for the Home Office.
To add insult to injury, all civil penalties are published with the full name of the company, their address and the amount of the penalty imposed. These are not just takeaway operations but include well known, reputable companies.
What employers do not always appreciate, is how easy it is to accidentally employ someone to work illegally. Illegal working does not always mean a racket of clandestine migrants, sneaking into the UK on false passports and working in the underground employment market. It can easily be undertaken by innocently missing a visa expiry date, working beyond the limited hours permitted by a visa or outside of the permitted activities.
It is also worth considering whether your organisation should be checking the right to work of any contractors or self-employed persons on site. The Home Office guidance has recently been updated to suggest employers may wish to do so, though this is not always best for your company.
Lewis Silkin’s immigration team has vast experience in preparing clients for audit and ensuring their compliance. We frequently review right to work checks to ensure these are undertaken correctly to provide a legal defence to employing someone to work illegally unknowingly.