Increases to Fines for Illegal Working

Fiona Gorry
Fiona Gorry
Head of Litigation
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The Home Office has announced substantial increases to civil fines that can be imposed for illegal working, which will see employers who are employing those without the right to work in the UK being faced with penalties of almost triple those currently in place.

From the start of 2024, employers who are found to have employed individuals in the UK without the required immigration permission will face fines of a maximum of £45,000 for each illegal worker, where this is their first breach. This is three times the current figure of a maximum of £15,000 per illegal worker. In cases of repeat breaches, the maximum penalty per illegal worker has been increased from £20,000 to £60,000.

This decision follows a recent rise in immigration enforcement activity which has seen a 50% increase in visits targeting illegal working in the last year alone. The increase in fines for illegal working is clearly hoped to deter employers from failing to conduct the appropriate right to work checks.

The Home Office has indicated that they will also consult on options to “strengthen action against licensed businesses who are employing illegal workers” later on this year.

For more information, the Home Office announcement can be accessed here.

This development highlights the importance of employers complying with their obligation to check the right to work of all new members of staff, before they commence work, and carrying out follow-up checks where necessary, in order that they may seek to establish a “statutory excuse” in response to any allegation that they have employed someone without the right to work in the UK. Guidance on how to conduct these checks can be found here.

If you would like to discuss the implications of the announcement, or if we can provide any other support or assistance on any other employment law matters, please do not hesitate to contact any member of our team on 0141 331 5150.

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