The ongoing UKBA enforcement programme against illegal working continues apace. The news section of the UKBA website has daily reports of raids and arrests, naming and shaming the businesses raided. The latest high profile raid was at Hamleys toy store in Regent Street, central London. The operation was targeting illegal contract cleaners and the UKBA officers exercised a warrant at 7.30 am to examine staff records and check that cleaning staff had the right to work in the UK. They arrested four people.

Whilst Hamleys had done nothing wrong, they still have the stigma of having illegal workers on their premises, as well as the administrative inconvenience of having to demonstrate that the cleaners were not their staff.

This news release, as well as most of the others, does in fact bring into focus the UKBA policy on publication of non-compliant employer details.

This states that they will publish details of all employers who have been found to be liable for the payment of a civil penalty for employing illegal migrant workers or have been convicted of an offence under section 21

It says that this will include instances where:

  • no objection or appeal is received within 35 days after service of the notice of liability (NOL) and no extension request has been received or granted and
  • the appeal process against service of the NOL has been fully exhausted.

However, the process starts with a notification of potential liability (NOPL) served by immigration officers carrying out enforcement visits. In each case, the central UKBA civil penalty and compliance team will then consider whether to issue the employer with a notification of liability (NOL) and a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per illegal worker.

If the NOL is served, the employer then has 28 days to pay in full, submit an objection or lodge an appeal.

Quite how all those employers who have been named within a day or two of the raids on their premises feel about the observance of this policy can only be imagined. Penningtons' reputation management lawyers are currently considering whether there is the basis for any legal action against the UKBA for what appears to be a failure to adhere to its own policy.