New Illegal Working Criminal Offences Introduced

Today (12 July 2016) a new illegal working criminal offence has been introduced by the government. Amendments have been made to the Immigration Act 1971 (section 24B) by the Immigration Act 2016 (sections sections 34 and 35) introducing the criminal offence of employing an illegal worker.

Under the new law a person will commit the offence of illegal working if he works in the UK at a time when he is not entitled to work in the UK because of his immigration status and either knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that he is not entitled to work in the UK because of his immigration status.

The offence is not limited to working under a contract of employment and extends to all types of work, including self-employment and apprenticeships.

Importantly, the new offence allows the government to seize the offending persons wages received from illegal working on the grounds that they are proceeds of crime.

A person found guilty of the offence in England and Wales will be liable to a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine, whereas in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the maximum penalty is six months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of the statutory maximum.

A new offence of employing illegal workers has been introduced by the Immigration Act 2016 today (12 July 2016). under the Immigration Act 1971  (as amended by section 35 of the 2016 Act), an employer commits an offence if he employs an illegal worker and either knows or has “reasonable cause to believe” that the person is an illegal worker. The new law is significant because it will mean that employers can no longer defend themselves from prosecution by asserting that they did not know that the employee had no permission to work. The new offence relating to employers carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment of 5 years.

UK Visas & Immigration have accordingly amended its “right to work checks” guidance to reflect the introduction of the new offences. The new guidance can be found here

For further information about how the new laws will affect your business, contact us and speak to one of our immigration lawyers.