The Immigration Act 2016: Three things employers need to know!

The Immigration Act 2016: Three things employers need to know!

Illegal immigration and illegal working are hot topics at present. New measures have been introduced, some of which will come into force on 12 July 2016. These will have a massive impact on employers. Notably, the criminal offence of employing an illegal worker has shifted so that employers turning a blind eye will be taking an even greater risk.

Those who exploit illegal migrants for their own gain are a target of the new legislation. A three pronged approach to deter those who may be tempted includes criminal and civil liabilities.

Criminal offence extension – 12 July 2016
Previously, an employer would find themselves committing an offence if they knowingly employed an illegal worker. It is now a criminal offence if they have reasonable cause to believe that someone is an illegal worker. This significantly lowers the burden of proof required for prosecution. An employer may now be liable to up to five years imprisonment on indictment.

Business shutdown – 48 Hours
Immigration officers will be granted powers to close a business premises for up to 48 hours under an illegal working closure notice.

Non-compliance civil penalties
The maximum civil penalty for employers in breach remains £20,000 per illegal worker. Immigration Enforcement may publish details of your business as a warning to other employers.

Best practice is to ensure that all of your employees are entitled to work in the UK. Having reasonable cause to believe that three of them do not could expose you to criminal sanctions and £60,000 in civil penalties if they are illegal workers. Turning a blind eye is no longer a viable option. Continued breach may result in a forced shutdown of your business.

Other aspects of the Immigration Act which will have a direct impact on employers include the duty on public authorities to ensure that employees with a customer-facing role speak fluent English and the potential introduction of immigration skills charge on certain employers sponsoring non-EEA skilled workers in April 2017. For more information please contact

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