If you are an employer concerned about illegal workers in your business, you are not alone. Many employers fall foul of the UK immigration rules each year, causing difficulties for their business. You may have already been contacted by the Home Office about illegal workers in your business; if this is the case, we would advise that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. In this article, we set out how to deal with Civil Penalties imposed by the Home Office and how to navigate the complex world of UK immigration law.

Are my employees working illegally?

The definition of an illegal worker in the UK is someone who is working in the UK without leave to remain. This covers the situation where a person has previously had leave to remain, but this has expired or if their leave to remain has now become invalid.

Furthermore, a worker may have leave to remain but might only be permitted to carry out a certain type of work or job role. If the worker engages in another type of work or job role, they will be in breach of their leave to remain and may be an illegal worker.

What should I do if I receive a Civil Penalty for employing an illegal worker?

If you are suspected of employing an illegal worker or multiple illegal workers, you may receive a warning from the Home Office accompanied by a fine known as a Civil Penalty. One of the biggest concerns for many employers is how costly Civil Penalties can be to their business. Furthermore, employing illegal workers can often attract negative attention in the press or on social media. As a result, it is important to act swiftly and deal with the Home Office as soon as possible.

If you have been served with a Home Office warning and Civil Penalty, it is possible to challenge the fine. You must take action within 28 days of the date of the Civil Penalty. There are three options available to you:

  • Object to the penalty and challenge the fine
  • Make a request to the Home Office to pay the Civil Penalty under a payment instalment plan
  • Pay the penalty in full

You must abide by the 28-day deadline for responding to the Home Office; there is no possibility of an extension. You must also contact a lawyer at an early stage if you are unsure about what you should do.

Challenging a Civil Penalty

It is important to know that if you choose to appeal, the Home Office may take the decision to increase the penalty. As a result, you must only challenge a penalty for employing illegal workers after you have received proper legal advice on your position. Only an experienced immigration lawyer will be able to advise fully on the merits of your situation.

The employment team at TSP works closely with the corporate and commercial teams and delivers sensible advice designed to help your business do what is necessary.  If you have any concerns about your business, please do not hesitate to contact Jolyon Berry at jolyon.berry@tsplegal.com or 07771 542740. Jolyon leads the TSP Employment Law team and is a Legal 500 “Leading Individual”.