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How to avoid employing illegal workers

Civil penalties provided by the 2006 Act
Under the 2006 Act, you are are liable to payment of a civil financial penalty if you employ a person aged 16 or over who is subject to immigration control and who has no permission to work in the United Kingdom, or who works for you in breach of their conditions of stay in the United Kingdom.


The excuse against payment of a civil penalty provided by the 2006 Act

Whilst the 2006 Act makes employers liable to civil penalties for employing illegal migrant workers, it also allows employers to have an excuse against payment of a civil penalty for doing so. Employers can have the excuse by carrying out specific checks on the original documents of prospective employees. Employers will only have the excuse for employees with time-limited leave to be in the UK if they carry out repeat checks at least once every 12 months. The documents that should be, or have been checked for staff employed from 29 February 2008 are described in the guidance booklets published by the UK Border Agency in February 2008 and on the Business Link website.


The criminal offence provided by the 2006 Act

Under the 2006 Act, it is a criminal offence to knowingly employ a person aged 16 or over who is subject to immigration control and who has no permission to work in the United Kingdom, or who works for you in breach of their conditions of stay in the United Kingdom.

Employing European Economic Area nationals
Employers should ask all EEA nationals to confirm their nationality by producing a specified document, as described above. Additionally, nationals of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia may need to be registered or authorised to work. Details of worker registration and authorisation for these nationals, including exemptions, can be found in the guidance booklets published by the UK Border Agency in February 2008 and on the Business Link website.

Penalties for employing illegal migrant workers

If you employ or have employed an illegal migrant worker from 29 February 2008 and do, or did not have an excuse you could be liable for a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per illegal worker.


If you knowingly employ or have knowingly employed an illegal migrant worker from 29 February 2008 you could be prosecuted and receive an unlimited fine and/or a maximum two year prison sentence.


Under the Accession (Immigration and Worker Registration) Regulations 2004, an employer can be fined a maximum of £5,000 per illegal worker if they continue to employ an unregistered non-exempt A8 worker after one month and have not retained a copy of their Home Office application form and do not receive a certificate of registration. An employer can also be fined for continuing to employ an A8 worker if they have been notified by the Home Office that their application has been refused.

Under the Accession (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2006, an employer can be fined a maximum of £5,000 per illegal worker for employing a non-exempt Bulgarian or Romanian who does not have permission to undertake the employment in question from 1 January 2007