Employers Beware! Fines and jail sentences for those employing illegal workers

Did you know that employers can be fined up to £20,000 per person for employing illegal workers and, those who knowingly employ an illegal worker can receive an unlimited fine; a possible jail sentence and have their business shut down.

With the current immigration crisis in Calais, Bromleys’ employment specialist Rachael Frankland warns employers to be ‘extra vigilant’ when recruiting.

“Regardless of the size of your business, employment law can be a complete minefield. From contract types and employer’s responsibilities to keeping up-to-date with the frequent changes in legislation, it’s not surprising employers are left feeling vulnerable.”

How to protect yourself and your business

As they say, ‘prevention is better than cure’ and there is no better time for business owners and those who are involved in a HR role to revisit their current recruitment process.

You will need to check if a potential or indeed, a current employee has the right to work within the UK and the Government has a useful online tool click here that will help you determine if they meet the necessary criteria. It will also guide you on what documents you need to check.

So what happens next if you are found to be employing an illegal worker?

You will receive a ‘referral notice’ informing you that:

    • your case is being considered
    • you may receive a fine (also known as a civil penalty) of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker (the fine is not payable if you can show a valid reason for employing the illegal worker)
    • If you are found liable, you will receive a ‘civil penalty notice’ giving you 28 days to respond. The penalty notice will also include your payment details, what happens next and how to appeal.
    • your company details may be published by Immigration Enforcement to act as a warning to others
    • you may receive a jail sentence for up to 2 years
    • you may receive an unlimited fine if you are found to have ‘knowingly’ employed an illegal worker


How we can help?

If you or one of your peers and found in this position, it is imperative that you seek legal advice immediately to ensure you are dealt with swiftly and fairly. Our experts will be on hand to explain what happens next and guide you through the legal process and, should you wish to appeal, they can help you prepare and attend on your behalf at the appeal hearing.

If you need as assistance, or need one of your experts to review your existing recruitment process or, need any assistance with the civil penalty process, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Employment team on the details below:

Rachael Frankland: rfrankland@bromleys.co.uk

Mark Hirst: mhirst@bromleys.co.uk

Nicholas Clough: nclough@bromleys.co.uk

Telephone: 0161 330 6821

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.