In 2014/15 Immigration Enforcement issued 1,974 civil penalties to businesses employing illegal workers. The Immigration Act 2016 will bring in changes to how foreign labour is used and how employers can be prosecuted.
The Government has issued a factsheet on the Immigration Act followed with the commitment to prosecute employers who employ illegal immigrants. Here are a few of the key changes:
• The sentence for employing illegal workers has been increased from 2 years’ to 5 years’ imprisonment.
• The maximum fine for businesses has doubled to £20,000 per illegal worker.
• Workers themselves can also now be prosecuted and face a fine or custodial sentence of six months for working without the correct permissions.
• Wages can be seized as proceeds of crime.
• Any employers who use foreign labour will be required to pay an ‘immigration skills charge’.
• The employer’s premises can be closed for up to 48 hours if illegal employment is suspected.
• Self-employed taxi and private-hire drivers previously did not have to complete right to work checks. Under the Act, immigration checks will be made compulsory as part of ‘existing licensing regimes’.
• The licence to sell alcohol or late night refreshments will also be made conditional based on the agreement to abide by immigration laws.
• The Bill will also create a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement who will be responsible for a new intelligence hub and overseeing budgets and objectives for enforcement bodies.