On 9 July 2013 the government unveiled proposals which should toughen civil penalties against rogue businesses employing illegal migrant labour, but at the same time administrative costs for legitimate employers. The government's consultation on these proposals will run for six weeks, until 20 August 2013. These proposals follow two recent Home Office consultations which took place earlier this month aimed at reducing access to free NHS care as well as rented accommodation for illegal migrants.
These proposals are part of the government's plans to effectively tackle illegal working in the UK and increase the already hefty financial penalties for rogue employers who facilitate such illegal working activity and exploit illegal labour. Illegal working is linked to harmful working conditions for the illegal worker and tax evasion. Illegal working and illegal immigration are bi-products of one another and have been proved to undercut legitimate businesses by illegal cost-cutting activity. Therefore in order to tackle this issue the government's proposals aim to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to live and work in the UK thus forcing them to leave the UK.
Proposals unveiled to toughen civil penalties for businesses employing illegal migrants include:
- An increase in the maximum penalty to £20,000 per illegal worker, targeted at those employers who repeatedly break the rules;
- Simplification of the way civil penalties are calculated;
- Simplification of the way unpaid penalties can be enforced in the civil courts; and
- Measures to allow recovery of a civil penalty from directors and partners of limited liability businesses following failure to pay by the business.
Proposals unveiled by the government to help legitimate businesses include:
- Reducing the number of documents an employer needs to check to establish a right to work;
- Replacing annual follow-up checks for non-EEA nationals with ones to coincide with the expiry of permission to be in the country;
- Simplification of the operation of the scheme and the guidance for employers; and
- Helping prevent undercutting by rogue employers.
These proposals aim to simplify and strengthen the current civil penalty scheme to prevent illegal working in the UK and if approved will be included in the Immigration Bill when it is introduced later this year. The Immigration Bill will further tighten immigration law and strengthen the UK Border Agency's enforcement powers and ability to clamp down on migrants who try to abuse the UK's public services.