As of the 12th July 2016 employers will be penalised for employing illegal workers while having ‘reasonable cause to believe that the employee is disqualified from employment’ because of their immigration status. This will apply regardless of the type of contract the employee is on and includes apprentices and oral arrangements.
The changes to the Immigration Act affects both employers and employees. Employers may face a substantial financial penalty and a maximum prison sentence of five years. This is an increase from the previous two-year sentence. There will also be an introduction of a new sanction which means businesses may be shut down for a period of 48 hours if they are suspected of employing illegal workers.
Employees will face a financial penalty as well as a maximum 6 months prison sentence. Also included in the changes is the expansion of the authority of Immigration Officers. They will have the power to conduct searches to premises including the workplace as well confiscate relevant evidence.
What can you do as an employer to protect yourself?
As an employer, it is essential that you have rigorous policies and procedures in place to prevent illegal working. This includes ensuring that all documents are requested and filed during the recruitment process.
Employers will also need to keep track of employees on visas including the expiry dates and renewal process.
Preventing illegal working is more important than ever. If you need further advice or guidance, we can provide the relevant tools and resources in order to ensure compliance.