Fines are to be more than tripled for employers and landlords employing illegal migrants to work for them or rent their properties. The higher penalties will come in at the start of 2024.
The civil penalty for employers, last increased in 2014, will be raised to up to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach from £15,000. The fine will rise to £60,000 for repeat breaches from £20,000.
For landlords, the fines will increase from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier for a first breach to up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier. Repeat breaches will be up to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier, up from £500 and £3,000 respectively.
If you look at the list of fined employers, many are small businesses. A fine of £45,000 per worker for employing illegal migrants will inevitably send some of these businesses out of business. The government claims this move will deter people from crossing the English Channel in small boats. The Free Movement website says there is little evidence to support this claim.
Since the start of 2018, the Home Office states it has issued almost 5,000 civil penalties to employers, totalling £88.4M.
However, as the Free Movement has discovered:
“Over the past five financial years, fines totalling £80.7 million have been issued and only £35.5 million collected. It is one thing imposing a penalty. It is quite another thing getting an employer to actually pay.”
Some of the shortfall is explained by employers winning appeals or getting discounts for paying the fine early. Nevertheless, we would urge businesses to be very careful when checking an employee’s right to work in the UK.
The Home Office also says that it has issued landlords with over 320 civil penalties worth a total of £215,500 in the same period.
Employers and landlords should already be checking the eligibility of anyone they employ or let a property to. There are a number of ways to do this, including via a manual check of original documentation and a Home Office online checking system. The online check takes only 5 minutes.
Please speak to a member of our team if you would like further details on this increase.