Immigration – Revised Guidance on Preventing Illegal Working

Posted: 18th February 2011

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has updated its guidance for employers on preventing illegal working in the UK.
This explains how to check that someone is entitled to work in the UK. If an employer checks and retains copies of certain original documents before someone starts working for them, they will have a statutory excuse, under Section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, against liability to pay a civil penalty for employing an illegal migrant. Where the person has a time limit on their stay in the UK, employers must carry out repeat checks on their documents at least once a year in order to retain the excuse. The guidance lists those documents that provide an ongoing excuse and those which provide an excuse for up to 12 months. Employers who negligently hire illegal workers face a maximum fine of £10,000 for each illegal worker found at a business.
Employers who knowingly hire illegal workers are committing a criminal offence under Section 21 of the Act, however, and cannot rely on the statutory excuse, regardless of whether or not they have carried out any document checks. This offence carries a maximum two year custodial sentence and/or an unlimited fine.
A swift glance at the latest news on the UKBA website illustrates the extent of the action being taken by Local Immigration Teams to identify those who are working in the UK illegally and to punish those employing them - see this page. The repeated message to those breaking the law is – ‘more raids are planned and you will be caught’.