Immigration Act 2016 and tougher employer penalties for employing illegal workers

With effect from tomorrow 12th July, tighter controls introduced by the 2016 Act will take effect aimed primarily at employers who are employing illegal workers in the UK. 

It is currently an offence if an employer knowingly employs an illegal worker in the UK as contained in section 21 of the Immigration m Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.  The offence will now be extended and may be committed by an employer who either knows or has reasonable cause to believe that they are employing an illegal worker. The burden of proof clearly is lowered and thus easier for UKBA to prove the offence albeit a difficult and costly process. Should an employer fall foul of the provisions, they can face custodial sentences increasing from 2 - 5 years. This is in addition to the civil penalties which can be imposed as contained in section 15 of the 2006 Act of up to £20,000. 

A new criminal offence is also created of illegal working in its own right which can result in imprisonment of up to 6 months and / or a fine. This will apply to those nationals who obtain employment illegally in the UK because they do not have the right to work in the UK be it those in direct breach of immigration control or those in breach of restricted working conditions. If convicted, they can also have their earnings seized & arrested under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

For employers, tighter HR and right to work checks will be of the utmost importance. Due diligence must be carried out and be effective. Copies of all visas must be checked and kept on file and a full paper audit trail is essential. A solid system in place with clear lines of responsibility and appropriate checks will help in managing the new burdens and responsibilities. 

1. Obtain one or more of the documents listed in the Home Office right to work guidance.

2. Make a clear copy which should be certified as being a true copy of the original by a Company official or Solicitor and notary public. 

3. ensure that the employee has the right work permission  for the job being offered / undertaken. 

Also bear in mind the employer checking service