Foreign workers

Employment Law London provides services to both employees and employers. Employees and employers are protected by and subject to employment legislation.

Employing foreign workers

If Employers are found to have employed illegal migrant worker, they could be fined up to £10,000 per illegal worker and be prosecuted.

The Law

Under section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, UK Border Agency introduced a civil penalty system in February 2008 for employers using illegal workers. The highest penalty will be £10,000 fine for each illegal worker employed.

Under section 21 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, it is a criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant worker. This offence is punishable with a maximum two-year custodial sentence and / or an unlimited fine.

The Process

During a visit by UKBA enforcement and compliance staff, which is usually triggered by a tip off or the routine compliance visit, if an employment establishment is found of employing someone with no immigration status that he/she is allowed to work in the UK, a notification of potential liability will be issued to the employer.

UKBA’s Illegal Working Civil Penalty Unit will then consider evidence provided by the visiting officers and to decide whether to issue a notification of liability and a civil penalty of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker. Factors to be considered by UKBA in deciding the level of penalty include:

  • the type of eligibility checks that the employer has made on its workers;
  • the numbers of times that UKBA have previously issued a warning or imposed a civil penalty; and
  • the extent to which the employer has co-operated with UKBA, like whether they are helpful in locating the illegal workers’ passports

In 2009, Baroness Scotland, then Attorney General, was fined £5,000 for employing an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper. Baroness Scotland had done some checks but that were not sufficient.

If an employer is hit with a notice of liability with a civil penalty, the employer has 28 days to:

  • pay the fine in full
  • request to pay by monthly instalments for financial hardship;
  • make an objection against the civil penalty decision to UKBA; or
  • lodge an appeal against the civil penalty decision to the County Court (England and Wales) or the Sheriff’s Court (Scotland).

We can help

  • Since the introduction of the civil penalty system, we have helped many employers in reducing the fine or avoiding the fine through the appeal system with UKBA and in courts.
  • We can also assist in discussion with UKBA to avoid the issue of civil penalty.
  • For the renewal of sponsor licence, employers who have been issued with a civil penalty must be shown that they have taken steps to ensure compliance. Our team can advise employers to achieve sponsor licence renewal process.


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