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Illegal worker warning

Businesses should tighten up their procedures in relation to employing foreign workers after a recent clamp down on illegal workers by the Home Office, an expert has warned.

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. Businesses which break the law can face a substantial fine or even a jail sentence.

Charlotte Nuttall, Employment solicitor at Lancashire law firm Napthens, warns that in recent months, a number of Lancashire businesses have been hit by significant civil penalties following raids by Home Office officials on their premises.

She warns that this points to an increased vigilance by the Immigration Service which is also actively encouraging employees and members of the public to tip them off.

Charlotte said: “The Employment team has been aware for some time that the Home Office is clamping down on illegal employment of foreign workers.

“Clearly businesses have a duty to ensure they find out everything they can about their staff before they begin employment, and this demonstrates the importance of having such procedures in place.

“The Home Office will consider factors such as the level of employment checks undertaken by the employer to make sure the employee in question was entitled to work in the UK, and the general recruitment practices of a business when imposing a fine.

“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 also keep adequate records.

“The Home Office does provide guidance as to the ID checks that should be carried out, but any employers who need guidance should contact their advisers.”