Following on from the Government’s August 2023 announcements of the intention to increase the level of civil penalties issued to employers for illegal working offences in the UK, effective from 13 February 2024, penalties that can be imposed will rise from £15,000 to £45,000 for a first time breach and from £20,000 to £60,000 for subsequent breaches. 

All employers hiring non-UK staff have a responsibility to prevent illegal working in the UK by conducting right to work checks on all staff pre-employment and ensuring repeat checks are conducted on staff with time limits on their immigration status. Employers with a sponsor licence have further responsibility to ensure they adhere to their sponsorship duties as well as right to work checks on all staff.

The Home Office has made no secret of the increased focus on compliance visits, to crackdown on illegal working in the UK, which means they will be stepping up immigration enforcement activity. The increase in civil penalties makes it even more vital for employers to ensure they have correct processes in place and understand how and when to conduct right to work checks. If appropriate checks are carried out, employers will have a statutory excuse against a civil penalty if an employee is subsequently found to be unlawfully working in the UK. 

What can employers do?

To avoid Home Office enforcement action against your business we recommend:

  • Review of right to work policies and procedures
  • Completing right to work checks in line with the Home Office guidance
  • Right to work training for HR/recruitment staff to ensure they understand the process
  • Auditing your workforce, particularly if you are sponsoring overseas staff

For further information on our immigration audit services contact our business immigration team today. We can support your organisation to prepare, achieve and maintain compliance to avoid these cumbersome penalties.

If you wish to discuss this further, please contact Tijen Ahmet, Legal Director.

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