Employers can not only receive hefty fines for hiring illegal employees but can also face criminal prosecution. The maximum fine for hiring illegal employees has increased over time from £10,000 to £20,000 in May 2014.
Employers can also be heavily penalised for employing someone who does not have the right to work in the United Kingdom and they don’t carry out the correct and necessary checks at all, the details of which are outlined on the GOV.UK website, or if they don’t carry out the checks properly and fully. If this is the case then the employer may receive what is called a “referral notice” which may then lead to a civil penalty fine of up to twenty thousand pounds for each illegal employee the employer has hired.
Employers are breaking the law if they hire someone that they know doesn’t have the right to legally work in the UK or have “reasonable cause to believe” they don’t have the right to legally work in the UK.
This includes, for example, if an employer has reason to believe that:
- The employee doesn’t have permission to enter or in fact remain in the United Kingdom.
- The employee’s permission to be in the UK has expired.
- The employee is not allowed to do specific types of labour.
- The employee’s relevant paperwork is incorrect or false.
Both GOV.UK and the “UK Visas and Immigration Enforcement” provide detailed information and checklists you should be carrying out to ensure the person you are hiring has the legal right to work in the UK. All of this information is detailed in the Home Office’s “an employer’s guide to right to work checks” guide. The UK government has also provided a handy “check if someone can work in the UK” online tool. The tool enables employers to find out if a potential employee actually has the full right to work in the United Kingdom and what documents the employer should be asking for and checking. The tool can be located here.
As the government dedicates more and more resources to uncovering illegal employment and the fines and punishments for hiring illegal employees increase then the number of employers employing illegal workers should decrease.
We highly encourage any employer to have a look at the GOV.UK site and to read all the relevant material regarding hiring workers legally including the links to the material we have provided above before hiring any new worker.