Two Bournemouth catering businesses have been fined a more than £40,000 for employing illegal workers, the UK Border Agency reports.
Jee Foo Chinese takeaway has been fined £12,500 for employing three illegal staff, while Taj Mahal Indian restaurant must pay £30,000 after it employed six illegal workers – the largest single fine handed out to a business in Dorset since civil penalties for employers were introduced by the Government last year.
Officers from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) visited both businesses late last year after receiving ‘intelligence’, presumably a tip-off, about potential illegal workers.
On 23 October 2008, a team from our Poole office went to Taj Mahal in Poole Road, entering shortly after 2000.
On checking the immigration status of the staff, six Bangladeshi men – aged 25, 28, 28, 28, 30 and 68 – were found to have no legal right to work in the United Kingdom, despite being employed in the kitchen and as waiters.
Immigration officers issued Taj Mahal with an on-the-spot notice, warning the employers that they might receive a large fine unless they could provide proof that they had carried out the necessary document checks (such as asking for passports or work permits) before giving the men jobs.
No evidence was provided, and the employers have now been given a £30,000 civil penalty fine.
A week later, on 1 November 2008, the Agency visited Jee Foo Chinese takeaway on Charminster Road.
Following checks on staff, three Chinese nationals – a 31-year-old woman and two men aged 30 and 35 – were found to have no legal right to work in the United Kingdom.
Again, the employers were issued with a notice warning that they would be fined unless they could prove that the legally required document checks had been carried out. They were unable to do so, and have now been handed a £12,500 fine for employing illegal workers.
Jane Farleigh, regional director of the UK Border Agency in Wales and the South West, said:
‘These substantial fines show how seriously we are taking the problem of illegal working.
‘The use of illegal workers presents a serious risk to legitimate competition and is unfair on honest employers.
‘The UK Border Agency works with employers so they understand the rules, but businesses have a responsibility to carry out the right checks before they give migrant workers jobs.
‘If they don’t, they could end up having to pay the kind of fine imposed on these employers in Bournemouth.’
The businesses have also been named and shamed on the UK Border Agency website, which publishes the details of employers who have been found liable for a civil penalty.
The civil penalty system was introduced by the Government last year and provides a swift and effective means of tackling employers who make inadequate checks on their workers from outside Europe.
A penalty of up to £10,000 can be handed out for each illegal worker found at a business.
The new measures also introduced a new criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant worker.
This will apply in the more serious cases where rogue employers knowingly and deliberately use illegal migrant workers, often for personal financial gain. It will carry a maximum two-year custodial sentence and/or an unlimited fine.
If you are an employer and you are unsure of the steps you must take to avoid employing illegal workers, you can visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers or call the UK Border Agency employers’ helpline on 0845 010 6677.
Source UK Border Agency
Immigration Matters Comment
The UKBA report did not state what happened to the illegal workers arrested in the multi officer raids. Whilst life goes on for the businesses employing illegal workers, usually at below minimum wage, the migrants end up being removed from the UK and banned from returning for up to 10 years.
The UKBA may have collected £40,000 in fines, but the cost to the taxpayer of mounting the raid and deporting eight people will probably be twice this amount.
It is estimated that the cost of deporting a person is around £10,000, but this could be much higher if the case goes to a legal aid funded appeal, with the migrant being held in a detention centre for months on end.
Leading think tank, ippr, said it would it would take at least 20 years to find and remove half a million illegal immigrants at a cost of over £5 billion.
This week the Government was criticised for wasting millions of pounds flying illegal immigrants back to their country in private jets.
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