Posted on by Jessica Peaty

Changes To The Immigration Act In Employment Law

Being in line with UK employment legislation’s has never been more important. As an employer you must ensure that individuals who are recruited have the legal right to work in the UK. It is illegal to employ an individual who is subject to immigration control and who has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK, or does not have permission to work in the UK.

All potential employees are required to provide evidence of entitlement to work in the UK. However it is the employer’s duty to request documentations from all potential employees, not just those coming from abroad. This means that employers are liable for fines for negligence if they are found to be employing illegal workers and can be prosecuted under the criminal offence of knowingly employing illegal workers.

With this in mind it is important to stay up to date with legislation changes that occur in the UK. In July 2016 the definition of what constitutes the offence is changing. Under the Act, it has also been made an offence for an employer to employ someone whom they know, or have reason to believe is an illegal worker.

The Immigration Act 2016 makes it a criminal offence to work illegally in the UK. Those who commit this offence are liable to a period of imprisonment and/or a fine as well as UK immigration restrictions. Additionally, all wages earned whilst employed illegally can be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

It also allows criminal action to be taken against employers who plead naivety. That is those who have reasonable cause to believe that the staff they have hired lack the relevant immigration permission to be in the UK or breach working conditions. The maximum custodial sentence for those who commit this offence is increased from two to five years. Along with the £20,000 civil penalty fine that previously existed.

The Immigration Act 2016 provides the ability to temporarily close businesses that repeatedly breach the law. The Home Office will have the power to close the whole business where illegal working is suspected, whilst it carries out investigations.

It permits greater powers for the Home Office to search and seize documents from an employer’s business, such as wage slips, timesheets etc., to assist in building a case against the illegal worker and the employer.

To keep in compliance with UK employment law, employers need to ensure that they are implementing appropriate measures, including robust initial right to work checks and follow up checks in their HR departments.
If you are unsure as to whether your HR processes are compliant with UK legislation’s get in touch with Selima for a free consultation.

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