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Employers punished as illegal worker fines double

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The total annual fines levied against companies who employ illegal workers have doubled since 2008, according to the UK Border Agency (UKBA), as employers hand over more than £22.1m in penalties.

Following alterations to the UKBA’s enforcement methods, 2,210 civil penalties were levied against employers in 2009, with fines totalling £22.1 million, almost double the figures for 2008 when 1,164 penalties were issued, worth £11.2 million.

In 2008, the government agreed to increase UKBA powers to enforce £10,000 fixed penalties for every illegal worker found in employment. By contrast, in 2007, before such powers were introduced, there were just 38 prosecutions sought by the UKBA.

The figures were obtained by consultants Grant Precision under the Freedom of Information Act and demonstrate the recruitment minefield currently damaging employers.

“These figures show that identity checking is fast becoming one of the biggest compliance risks for employers and recruitment suppliers,” commented Matthew Brown, Grant Precision’s Managing Director. “With immigration an increasingly thorny political issue, the level of fines for employing illegal workers is likely to rise still further. The manual, paper-based identity checks that recruiters and HR departments often still rely on need to be adapted to this new reality.”

Currently, knowingly employing individuals who have no right to work in the UK is a criminal offence, instantly punishable under the UKBA’s punitive system.

But, employers do have a statutory defence for the civil offence of employing illegal workers so long as they check and copy original documentation, such as passports, although the documents needed depend on individual circumstances.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

April 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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