Effect of the illegal working closure notices and compliance orders
The threat of civil and/or criminal sanctions do not appear to have curbed non-compliant behaviour of businesses employing illegal labour.
The creation of the Illegal Working Closure Notice and Compliance Order provisions is intended to provide government agencies with the power to close a business premises where illegal working is being conducted, and where there is a history of illegal working, in an attempt to reduce the number of illegal migrants being employed in the UK.
Illegal Working Closure Notice and Compliance Order
As a result of this change, employers without a statutory excuse can face the following consequences:
- Employers can be put under a compliance regime to prevent them operating at the premises by employing illegal workers.
- A Closure Notice can shut a premises for a period of up to 48 hours.
- A Compliance Order can be issued by the court for a period of up to 12 months, and extended to 24 months in total.
- A Compliance Order may restrict or prohibit access to the premises, require right to work checks on employees to be undertaken and for inspections and investigations to be carried out by an immigration officer and make any other provision the court considers appropriate.
- Following a Closure Notice, it is normally an offence to access the premises or contravene a Compliance Order with a maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and up to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine in Scotland.
These offences are in addition to the sanctions already in place where an employer can face a large financial penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker in their employment and potentially have their Sponsor Licence revoked if they fail to carry out the relevant checks. An employer may also commit a criminal offence if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that they are employing an illegal worker, with a penalty of up to 5 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
In order to obtain a statutory excuse and mitigate against these penalties, employers must be able to demonstrate that they have undertaken the prescribed right to work check which will significantly reduce the likelihood of illegal workers being employed.