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Business Surgery: Bury St Edmunds immigration specialist Sohan Sidhu, from Ellisons Solicitors, has a warning for businesses employing illegal workers





The Home Office is ever-vigilant in pursuing what it calls rogue employers, namely those employers who are not complying with immigration laws when employing migrants in the UK.

The Home Office has a lot of power against those they deem to be rogue employers and these include issuing civil penalties for employing workers who do not have permission to work in the UK. Last year, the Home Office announced its intention of increasing fines for employers and the rule changes were introduced on February 13, 2024.

The fines for employers have increased from £15,000 up to £45,000 and fines for repeat breaches have increased from the previous level of £20,000 to the new level of £60,000. It is ever more important for employers to ensure that they conduct appropriate Right to Work Checks before employment commences and such checks must be made against all employees and must not just be limited to migrant employees. If this happens, there can be issues of discrimination.

Sohan Sidhu, of Ellisons Solicitors
Sohan Sidhu, of Ellisons Solicitors

Employers need to be aware that if they are employing international students, then there is enhanced due diligence which must be undertaken. If the business is in possession of a Home Office Sponsor Licence which gives it the ability to sponsor foreign workers and a civil penalty is issued, then this can also lead to the Sponsor Licence being suspended or revoked.

In the event that that a business receives a civil penalty from the Home Office, and it actively co-operates with the Home Office during its investigation, then this can lead to a reduction of the civil penalty and active co-operation will include such matters as providing access to appropriate records and responding promptly to Home Office requests for information including the disclosure of appropriate evidence.

The immigration landscape is constantly changing, as are immigration rules. Employers therefore have to be constantly vigilant and keep abreast of changes. The Home Office position is that employers need to have robust HR systems in place with procedures to ensure compliance with preventing the employment of illegal workers. These are, no doubt, onerous obligations.

The Home Office will also ‘name and shame’ employers who have been issued with civil penalties and they have a dedicated section on their website to list all business which have been issued with a civil penalty and for the Midlands and East England region from between July 1 to September 30, 2023, the Home Office issued over 40 civil penalties which ranged from between £10,000 to £110,000. This goes to show how active the Home Office can be in preventing illegal working.

Ellisons Solicitors
Ellisons Solicitors

For advice on this or any other immigration issues, please do not hesitate to contact Sohan Sidhu by email at sohan.sidhu@ellisonssolicitors.com or by telephone on 01284763333