Employers who hire individuals who do not have the legal right to work in the UK are at risk of facing serious repercussions. These can include a hefty fine of up to £20,000 per worker, a prison sentence of up to five years, or both. The Home Office imposes civil penalties when it discovers that an employer has employed a person who is not allowed to work in the UK. It is illegal for an employer to hire a person in any capacity if they are unable to perform the work in question due to their immigration status. The civil sanctions regime applies equally to all employers of migrant workers, regardless of whether they choose to ignore their obligations or if they are more diligent employers who hire illegal personnel “without knowing it”, for example, due to a defect in their onboarding processes.
This increase in sanctions is not limited only to employers of illegal workers, but extends to landlords who allow illegal immigrants to rent their properties. The growing “Department of Immigration Enforcement” is gaining strength as the Government continues to promise to crack down on illegal work and severe penalties are imposed on employers who intentionally hire illegal workers or those who unknowingly employ illegal workers without carrying out the correct “due diligence” checks. This increase in civil penalties for employers is an important step by the Home Office in its approach to cracking down on illegal work in the UK. The consequences of hiring illegal workers can be serious, but if illegal work is discovered, an employer who has established a legal excuse by correctly verifying their right to work will be exempt from the civil penalties listed below. Additionally, there is also a risk of damaging the company's reputation if an employer is found to have hired an illegal worker. Illegal civil labor penalties cover the situation in which an employer unknowingly employs a person who does not have the required permission to perform the work in question.