Carrying out right to work checks is a legal requirement of all UK employers, and even British citizens must be subject to checks. But many companies are unaware of this legislation, despite serious repercussions for non-compliance.
Organisations who are found to have illegal immigrants as part of their workforce face a civil penalty fine of £20,000 per worker. In addition, employers can be subject to a criminal conviction for knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant, or anyone they have reasonable cause to suspect does not have the right to work in the UK. Punishment includes up to 5 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
By carrying out the necessary checks, employers are protecting themselves from civil penalty. Having a comprehensive right to work screening procedure in place provides employers with a statutory excuse against civil liability.
Closure notices, which prevent businesses from carrying out normal operations can have a serious and long-lasting impact on business, employees and customers, with not only financial but also reputational damage continuing long after the non-compliance has been resolved. Employers who have been found guilty of hiring illegal workers might also have their details published by Immigration Enforcement, as a warning to other businesses. Compliance orders, which provide employers with the opportunity to change their procedures for preventing illegal working, can be stressful and inconvenient.
In addition, the Home Office has the power to suspend or revoke business licenses if they suspect members of the workforce are guilty of illegal working.
And it’s not just the employers who face repercussions of hiring illegal workers. The workers themselves can also be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to 6 months.
Carrying out right to work checks is not a choice but a legal requirement to reduce the instances of illegal working in the UK. And while hiring illegal immigrants might present a tempting opportunity to access cheap labour, the substantial negative repercussions of both knowingly and unknowingly hiring people without the right to work in the UK should be enough to ensure that all employers take their responsibilities seriously.
Using a specialist screening provider to carry out your Right to Work checks can help provide your company with civil protection against unknowingly hiring an illegal worker.