As the Government announces a crackdown on businesses which employ illegal workers, a Lancashire employment expert is warning regional businesses to be aware of their responsibilities.
The ongoing crisis at the Port of Calais and the Euro Tunnel has meant the Government has announced businesses which employ illegal workers will face increased raids and investigations.
Oliver McCann, Employment partner at Napthens solicitors, warns that the issue is one which can potentially affect businesses across the country, not just in the south.
As a result, they should tighten up their procedures in relation to employing foreign workers.
Oliver said: “The reality is that migrants making it across the channel to the UK are relocated to various destinations across the country.
“It is therefore important for businesses to be aware of the relevant laws. For instance, it is a criminal offence to knowingly employ a person who does not have permission to work in the UK, and a civil offence to negligently employ such an illegal worker.
“Employers therefore have a duty to prevent illegal working and must be fully familiar with their legal obligations.
“Failure to identify those migrants who require UK immigration permission and carry out the necessary document checks can result in criminal and civil penalties of imprisonment and/or fines. The maximum fine is £20,000 for each illegal worker.
“However, employers will have a legal defence if they have taken the necessary steps to check evidence of an employee’s right to work and live in the UK prior to them starting work.
“Businesses should not simply refuse to employ workers with a Visa entitling them to work in the UK – this could be an act of race discrimination. The proper procedures in place and staff training carried out should mean the process is a fairly simple one, but anyone in doubt should take legal advice.”