UK - New measures announced to tackle illegal working

Home Secretary David Blunkett recently announced that changes to UK law will make it easier to prosecute companies who employ illegal workers. These changes will also make it easier for legitimate businesses to continue to operate within the law.

A guide has already been sent to all 1.3 million UK employers registered with PAYE to clarify what documents would need to be provided by foreigner to prove that they are allowed to work in the UK. Furthermore, several documents often used by forgers will no longer be admissible as a defence against prosecution for illegal employment. The Government is also currently considering whether or not to increase the fines on employers who hire illegal workers.

These new regulations, coming into force on 1 May, are part of a comprehensive, bipartisan approach to tackle illegal working. This approach includes the aim of strengthening border controls to prevent illegal immigration, increasing enforcement activity and action against organised criminal networks, who are in the business of human trafficking.

The Home Secretary has stated that the Government has been working together with UK employers to create these new measures. Employers have the responsibility of making the relevant checks on their employees. The changes in the law will aid legitimate business to stay on the proper side of the law and also make it easier to prosecute businesses who employ illegal workers. He also believes that ID cards will aid in this process.

It has also been announced last week that a new Immigration Office will be opened in Swaffham, Norfolk which will in effect double the capacity of the Immigration Service to tackle illegal working in this region.

The current Asylum and Immigration Bill creates a new offence of trafficking for exploitation, including forced labour, with a maximum penalty of 14 years. The monetary penalty for employing someone who is not entitled to work in the UK is currently a maximum of £5,000 per employee.

The main reasons the Government is taking these measures to change the law is because:

  • they want to make it harder for people who do not have permission to work to get jobs using fake documents
  • they want to make it easier for employers to check that the individuals they wish to employ are legally permitted to work
  • they want to make it easier for the immigration authorities to take action against employers who deliberately employ illegal workers

If you have a job offer in the UK, contact our UK visa department on (0)207 842 0800 to find out how YOU can legally work in the UK.