The Government has published a consultation on proposals to strengthen and simplify the current civil penalty scheme, which is aimed at preventing illegal migrant working. Since 1997 employers have had a responsibility to check that their employees have the right to work in the United Kingdom and, since 2008, this has been underpinned by a civil penalty scheme that imposes a sanction on those who employ illegal migrants. The Government plans to introduce tougher civil penalties on employers who continue to exploit illegal migrant labour to reflect the harm they cause, while at the same time cutting red tape by significantly reducing the administrative costs of conducting right-to-work checks.
The proposals to toughen the civil penalty scheme include:
• increasing the maximum penalty from £10,000 to £20,000 per illegal worker, targeted at employers who repeatedly break the rules
• simplifying the way civil penalties are calculated
• simplifying the way unpaid penalties can be enforced in the civil courts, and
• introducing measures to allow recovery of a civil penalty from directors and partners of limited liability businesses following failure to pay by the business.
The Government further proposes to help business by:
• reducing the list of acceptable documents for right-to-work checking purposes, eliminating older and less secure documentation which is vulnerable to forgery, and working towards the use of biometric residence permits for right-to-work checks for most non-EEA nationals
• replacing annual follow-up checks for non-EEA nationals with checks to coincide with the expiry of permission to be in the country, and
• simplifying the operation of the scheme and the guidance for employers.
The consultation closes on 20 August 2013. The reforms are expected to be included in the Immigration Bill later this year and introduced through secondary legislation in early 2014.
The consultation can be viewed on the Home Office website: