Civil Penalties

Civil Penalties

Failing to conduct appropriate right to work checks on all of your employees may affect your company credit rating, long-term growth and reputation.  You will also have to pay significant civil penalties.

Awards and Accreditations

All UK employers have a responsibility to avoid employing illegal workers.  By carrying out appropriate document checks, employers may protect themselves from receiving a civil penalty or prosecution.

Right to work checks

Employers are under a duty to check that every employee has a right to work. You must conduct this check before your employees commence working for you. If you want to employ a worker from outside the European Economic Area, they must obtain, or already have, permission to work.

You must obtain prescribed documents from your workers as evidence of their right to work in the UK. Failure to do so may result in significant financial penalties. It is important to note that you must obtain these documents before any worker commences employment with your organization.

You must make a clear copy of each document in a format which cannot be altered and retain this copy securely for not less than two years after the employment has come to an end.

If the person has time-limited permission to be in the UK and perform the work, you must carry out additional checks when that permission expires. If a potential employee cannot prove their right to work then you should not employ them. If the employee already works for you, has time-limited permission to work and cannot prove their right to work in a subsequent check, you should terminate their employment.

Civil Penalties

If you are found to have employed a worker illegally, you may be liable for a civil penalty. Each illegal worker you employ will attract a penalty.

The Home Office will send you a notice telling you that your case is being referred for investigation and determination of your liability for a civil penalty. You may be able to appeal against the notice in certain circumstances. For example, where you can provide evidence that you have undertaken the appropriate right to work documentation checks.

The maximum penalty you can be made to pay is £20,000 per illegal worker. The amount you will have to pay will depend on whether this is a first time offence, whether you have reported the illegal worker to the Home Office, the duration of the illegal worker’s employment, whether you have co-operated with the Home Office and whether you generally comply with your employer duties to prevent illegal working.

It is also a criminal offence to knowingly employ an illegal worker, or employ an illegal worker where you had reasonable cause to believe that they did not have the right to work in the UK. You may face up to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Right to Work Checks

You can avoid incurring a civil penalty by conducting appropriate right to work checks. If you have carried out suitable document checks, you will have a ‘statutory excuse’ and will not be liable for a civil penalty

Document checks will not protect you against prosecution if you knew the worker did not have permission to work, or if you could reasonably have known.

The Home Office publishes lists of all civil penalties imposed on companies on their website. The Home Office also issue local and national press releases, naming companies that have employed workers illegally. Such adverse publicity will damage your company’s reputation.

How our immigration lawyers can help

Our immigration lawyers are well versed in all the required right to work checks that employers must undertake. We will work with you to ensure that a simple yet effective HR process is put in place to protect your business from any immigration compliance issues.

If you have been issued with a Notification of Liability for a Civil Penalty, our immigration lawyers can advise as to the likelihood of mounting a successful challenge. We can also assist with submitting objections to the Civil Penalty Compliance Team.

Call us on 0208 099 7560, complete the online contact form or email us at [email protected] to learn more about how we can help your business remain in compliance with UK immigration law.

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