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The Home Office has ramped up immigration enforcement activity in the month since Rishi Sunak’s pledge to boost raids on illegal working. In the period from 11 December 2022 to 23 January 2023, 1,152 government visits to investigate illegal working have taken place across the UK. This is a rise of almost 10% from the previous five-week period.
The enforcement visits have amounted to 362 arrests, 92 civil penalties for illegal working and a cost of £1.5 million to businesses. In addition, the Home Office plans to hire 200 new immigration enforcement staff and re-introduce data sharing with banks, preventing illegal workers gaining access to UK bank accounts.
In order to avoid financial and reputational damage, it is essential to conduct right to work checks in accordance with Home Office guidance. Robust policies and procedures are key to ensuring that checks are done properly. HR departments should record key dates and, in the case of those under immigration control, it is good practice to review at least three months in advance to ensure any necessary action is taken.
Keeping thorough records and reporting procedures are vital, especially for those sponsoring overseas workers, to protect employers and prevent hefty and avoidable fines. Employers should also review these procedures regularly as the Home Office guidance changes from time to time.
If done properly, these checks will ensure that businesses are not penalised even if it turns out that the employee did not have the right to work. This might be the case, for example, if the worker had obtained their passport fraudulently. However, this can be a complicated area and if in doubt, it would be advisable to obtain legal advice.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Business Immigration team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.