This summer the Immigration Act 2016 came into force introducing new criminal penalties for individuals working in breach of their visa conditions (known as ‘illegal working’). The Act also increases penalties for employers found to be employing illegal workers from two to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.
‘Illegal working’ applies where a foreign worker takes up work where they do not have the appropriate immigration permissions. A worker convicted of this offence faces a custodial sentence and/or a fine.
Given the changing law as well as the increased risk and penalties faced by employers, it is important to ensure that you understand what needs to be done to maintain compliance with the law.
Right to Work Check
An employer must conduct a right to work check for all employees either before employment commences or at the start of the employment. This can be done by checking a document showing permission to carry out the work in question (e.g. a visa) as well as the terms of that visa.
Employers are required to check the documents with the employee present making sure that the photograph and personal details match their identity and that no documents have been tampered with. A clear copy of the relevant documents should be kept, recording the date of the checks and should be retained for at least two years after the worker’s employment ends.
An employer must ensure that its employees continue to have the right to work throughout their employment. This includes completing follow-up checks on those who have time-limited permission to work in the UK before their status expires.
For more information on this or any other employment law issue that could affect your business, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Employment Team.
For more information and to find out how we can help you, please contact Joanna Sutton by email or call 020 7294 7330.