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New Civil Penalties for employing illegal migrant workers will have teeth | Immigration Matters

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Civil penalties for employing illegal immigrants will be easier to impose than criminal charges, and employers should expect fines of up to £10000 per illegal worker.

The burden of proof required to impose civil penalty is less stringent than for criminal charges, where the case must be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. The criminal offence for exploiting illegal workers, which carries a £5000 fine and a maximum 2 year custodial sentence, will remain on the statutes for more serious cases.

Employers, including individuals, could be hit with fines of up to £10,000 for employing an illegal worker as of 29 February. The Border and Immigration Agency have been running a national advertising campaign for the last few months warning employers to check ‘eligibility to work’ in order not to fall foul of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who recently had to defend the Home Office for employing illegal workers, said:

“By stamping out illegal working we are making the UK a less attractive destination for illegal migration.

“The new civil penalties are a more effective way of dealing with employers who use slipshod or exploitative recruitment methods. Together with the introduction of compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals, there can be no excuse for not checking the identity of those applying for jobs.

“By working together with employers and others we have developed a system that delivers the migrants the UK needs, but which also keeps out those that it does not.”

Employers can reduce penalties by as much as £2500 if they inform on the illegal migrant and “cooperate” with the BIA.

Under the points-based system, which started last month for Tier 1, employers will have to register for a licence to hire migrants from outside the EU, and be responsible for monitoring how long a foreign worker is entitled to work in the UK.

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