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Employment Law

Legal guidance - compliance - software

28 SEP 2015

Government takes hard line on illegal working

Government takes hard line on illegal working
Judith Hockin
Associate, Veale Wasbrough Vizards

The Immigration Bill 2015-16 had its first reading in the House of Commons on 17 September 2015.

Several proposals have been introduced to help prevent illegal working in the UK and the exploitation of illegal migrant workers. We previously reported on some of the measures here.

The measures include:

  • Widening the scope of the criminal offence for knowingly employing an illegal migrant. Instead it is enough for an employer to have 'reasonable cause to believe' a person is an illegal worker.
  • Conviction for the above offence to be increased from two to five years.
  • Businesses required to close for up to 48 hours and licensed premises having their licences revoked if they employ illegal migrants.
  • Illegal working to be made a criminal offence, therefore allowing wages paid to illegal workers to be seized as proceeds of crime.
  • The creation of an enforcement agency to take action against employers who exploit migrant workers.
Other measures have been introduced to 'reduce the demand for skilled migrant workers', including:

  • Making it an offence for employment agencies to recruit from abroad without advertising the job in Britain.
  • Introducing an 'immigration skills charge'; this is where employers will be made to pay a sum in order to bring certain workers tot eh UK from outside the European Economic Area. This is to increase funding for apprenticeships in the UK and address the current skills gap in the UK workforce.
  • Requiring public sector workers in customer-facing roles to speak fluent English. Public authorities should consider a code of practice when deciding how to comply with this duty.
Best practice

The more hard-lined approach taken by the government, particularly by disallowing the excuse that the employer did not know the worker was illegal, will mean employers need more rigorous checks on their staff before the worker is recruited and during their employment.

To prepare you and help protect your business from these potential new offences, our immigration lawyers are able to provide tailored legal advice, including an audit of your workforce to identify any risks and to ensure you check, copy and keep the right documents.


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