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What Rules Are in Place to Prevent Illegal Workers in the UK?

by Olufisayo
Illegal Workers in the UK

When applying for a job in the UK, employers have a responsibility to ensure those they are employing have the right to work in the UK. In this article, we’re going to discuss what rules are in place to prevent illegal workers in the UK…

Employing workers for a role is not always so straightforward, especially when they have moved to the UK from a different country. There are a number of checks that you will need to carry out to ensure they are legally allowed to work in the UK.

For those individuals who want to live and work in the UK, they will need to make an indefinite leave to remain application. Without having this in place, you will be classed as an illegal immigrant and will not be able to work in the UK.

To learn more about the rules that are in place to prevent illegal workers in the UK, keep reading…

Why Shouldn’t you Employ Illegal Workers?

Employers have a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working in the UK, and it’s important they uphold this requirement. You shouldn’t employ illegal workers for a number of reasons, including:

It’s Against the Law

As we have spoken about previously, as an employer, you have a legal responsibility to ensure your workers are not working illegally, and if you are allowing them to do so, you are breaking the law.

You Could FaceProsecution

If you are caught employing illegal workers by law enforcement, you will likely face penalties from the Home Office if found guilty. Examples of the penalties you could face if you employ someone who does not have the right to work include being sent to jail for up to five years and paying an unlimited fine.

For more information on the severity of employing illegal workers, check out the GOVUK website.

Your Business Could be Severely Financially Impacted

Being fined for having illegal workers can have the potential to cost a lot of money, and if you are a small business, this could be catastrophic, meaning you have to shut down. This then has the potential to impact your personal life on top of the business.

Your Business Could be Named and Shamed

If you are caught having illegal workers, this won’t be kept a secret. The GOV.UK does quarterly reports showing the total number of fines it has handed out for illegal working, and this includes the trading name of the business, the address, and the final value of the penalty.

Being named and shamed could mean that customers are inclined to go elsewhere. You may also find that you could struggle to find suppliers, lenders, and other important things that a business needs to succeed.

How to Prevent Employing Illegal Immigrants

Do Proper Right to Work Checks

Previously, physical documentation was satisfactory evidence to prove the right to work in the UK. However, in April 2022, the law changed. What this means is that for those individuals who are Biometric Residence Card (BRC), Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), and Frontier Worker Permit (FWP) holders, their eligibility to work in the UK will need to be proved online through the Home Office service. Any other person applying for a job is still able to follow the manual right-to-work check.

The Home Office has a set list of documents which are acceptable. Some of these acceptable documentation include:

  • Immigration status document stating the holder can stay indefinitely in the UK
  • A passport showing the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and carry out the particular job role

Check the Documents are Genuine

Make sure that the documents provided to you are genuine and are in relation to the person you are employing. This means checking names, photographs, etc.

Make Copies of the Documents

You will be required to make copies of the document, but it’s important to ensure these documents cannot be manually adjusted. This can be done by having hard copies or a JPEG or pdf document.

Keep Records

Make sure to put an accurate date for when the right to work was carried out. It is also important to make a date of any repeat checks you have made on the document provided.

Retain Records

To ensure you are complying with the law and are not faced with any issues later down the line, make sure to keep the copies of the right to work for the full duration of the employees time with the business, in addition to another two years after they have left the business.

Only Employ Workers that Have the Legal Right to Work in the UK

What we can conclude from this article is that employing illegal workers is your responsibility as a business. Not doing proper checks is simply not worth it, particularly with the level of trouble you can get into, with a potential prison sentence and unlimited fine should you be found guilty.

There are so many actions that can be taken to ensure that any employee definitely has the right to work in the UK, so always ensure that your checks are done, and double checked to be certain that the documentation provided is completely genuine and won’t adversely affect you or the business in the future.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a legal professional if you’re seeking advice about making sure your employees are legal. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

Photo by The Standing Desk from Unsplash

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