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Employing illegal workers

Author: Mark Thomas
Date: 6th October 2015
Tags: Employers

You can be fined up to £20,000 per person for employing illegal workers. Illegal workers include students with expired visas, or students working more hours than they’re allowed to, or people who work on a visitor’s visa.

You’ll be sent a ‘civil penalty notice’ if you’re found liable and you’ll have 28 days to respond.  The penalty notice will give you your payment options and tell you what do next.  It will also tell you how to appeal if you want to.  You won’t have to pay a fine if you can show a valid reason for employing an illegal worker.

There is a ‘statutory defence’ against the £20k immigration fine – specific steps employers should take and certain records they should keep.  The process takes on average less than half an hour per employee, but many small employers are ignorant of the facts.  We advise checking for an original EEA/UK passport or UK birth certificate.  A copy of the photo page (or whole certificate) should be taken, and ‘original seen by [name] on [date]’ and the signature of the person who saw the original.  Employers are also supposed to use reasonable skill to determine whether the documents they see are bona fide.  Whilst there is some useful guidance on the government/home office website, we always recommend getting professional advice if unsure.

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