It an offence for an employer to employ someone they have “reasonable cause to believe” does not have permission to be in or work in the United Kingdom.
Sections 15–25 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 set out the law on the prevention of illegal migrant working.
Section 15 of the 2006 Act may also enable employers to establish an excuse against liability for payment of a civil penalty for employing an illegal migrant, by checking and copying certain original documents before anyone starts working for them.
A person commits an offence if he employs someone while having reasonable cause to believe that the employee is an adult (over 16) subject to immigration control and that—
(a) he has not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, or
(b) his leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom—
(i) is invalid,
(ii) has ceased to have effect (whether by reason of curtailment, revocation, cancellation, passage of time or otherwise), or
(iii) is subject to a condition preventing him from accepting the employment.
The Immigration Act 2016 has increased the scope of the offence from someone who “knowingly” gives employment to an illegal worker, to someone that has “reasonable cause to believe” an employee is an illegal worker. The Act does not, however, define “reasonable cause to believe”.
An employer who employs someone subject to immigration control aged over 16 who is not entitled to undertake the work in question will be liable to pay a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.
An employer can be sent to jail for up to 5 years and have to pay an unlimited fine if they are found guilty of employing someone who they knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to work in the UK.
There is more information about checks employers should carry out on the gov.uk website:
Bishopsgate Law employment lawyers provide independent legal advice about employment settlement agreements, and represent employees and employers at employment tribunals.