Immigration Update: increase to civil penalties for illegal working


The Home Secretary announced on Monday 7 August, that fines are to be more than tripled for employers who are found to be employing illegal workers in the UK. 

Currently sanctions for illegal working, also known as ‘civil penalties’, include fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker - this is to be increased to up to £60,000. The higher penalties will take effect from the start of 2024.  

Employers can obtain a ‘statutory excuse’ against civil penalties for illegal workers - by carrying out ‘Right to Work’ checks in line with Home Office guidance and retaining evidence of having carried out such checks. If it’s proven that an employee does not have the right to work – the employer can use the correctly conducted ‘Right to Work’ check as a defence against the fine, that would otherwise be imposed on the business. 

At Ashfords, we can support businesses with all ‘Right to Work’ matters, including:

  • Providing in-depth, tailored guidance and training sessions to our clients - including how to conduct ‘Right to Work’ checks, the importance of carrying out these checks correctly and the sanctions associated with illegal working
  • Carrying out comprehensive audits of our clients’ employee files and record keeping systems – to review ‘Right to Work’ evidence retained, to make recommendations on best practice for carrying out checks and record retention moving forwards
  • Providing bespoke documents such as ‘Right to Work’ checklists and guides tailored to our clients’ industries and organisations

For further information or advice on any business immigration matters, please contact a member of our Immigration team

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