Just this week, the Home Office published its quarterly statistics for #civil_penalties issued between 1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018. The numbers are staggering.
Employers were issued with fines of more than £7.7 million for employing illegal migrants over those three months. That equates to around 600+ illegal workers found working unlawfully.
One cannot feel anything but being dismayed at the number of fines that are still floating around. The #Civil_Penalty system (against the previously magistrates' court judgments) have been around for over a decade (introduced under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006). The Home Office makes a point of publishing quarterly figures and detailed statistics naming and shaming the businesses that have been fined. If that's not a deterrent, what can be?
Still, we still find ourselves 11 years down the line, looking at fines with a value that we see on a winning ticket of a Euromillions Lottery Draw. So, what is the problem and can this be solved?
While the Home Office has published, clear documentation for the "Prevention of Illegal Working" and associated guidance and checklists. These are bulky documents to read and can be amalgamated into hundreds of pages to read. However, these documents are incredibly detailed and do provide 90% of all employee scenarios.
From speaking to many employers, we gather that they do understand the need to check a passport and visa of sorts but are generally confused when the standard employee does not fit into the British or EU bill, i.e. spouse of a British Citizen, a student studying English or other variation of visas.
As such, it is essential for any employer to study any available guidance - call it 'the necessary evil' if you must, or consult an experienced immigration provider to understand your duties under the 2006 Act. After all, with a potential fine of £20,000 per individual found to be unlawfully working for you (and possible imprisonment) and the reputation of your business, preparation and knowledge, even at a small cost of your time to do some serious bedtime reading, should be a priority.
Lack of appreciation
Problem with that, of course, is the fact that out of the 1 - 2 days (or even one week of audit), the remainder 350+ days over the course of the year is ignored. This pat on the back once a year could leave gaping holes in managing your immigration #compliance.
While some compliance inconsistencies can be rectified, most, such as the "day 1" right to work checks can never be remedied. As such, it is essential for all employers to review the current system they have put in place and make sure that it is regularly audited, tested and reported.
More importantly, employers ought to train not 1 or 2 members of staff to understand the system but a group of responsible staff members to look after it. The more people within your organisation understand the importance of compliance, the better it is for an organisation to run a well-oiled compliance program.
Regular sample auditing of more than once a year will also help an employer in identifying what your organisation is doing well and what the organisation is not doing as well. The more you maintain a system, the less likely you will fall foul under the rules.
Shores & Legal are experienced and expert immigration partners for your business and personal immigration requirements. We help companies with identifying their immigration compliance gaps and helping business setup and operate an effective immigration compliance programme. If you wish to discuss your UK immigration requirements, contact us at +44 (0) 207 097 6778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.