The government has unveiled a range of measures designed to help deliver tougher civil penalties against businesses that employ migrant workers without the required UK work permits or visas.
An announcement from the Home Office today (July 9th) explained that the proposals are designed to make it harder for rogue employers to exploit migrants while also making it more difficult for illegal migrants to move to Britain and work in the first place.
Mark Harper, UK immigration minister, announced the changes: "This government is committed to taking action to effectively tackle illegal working. Illegal working encourages illegal immigration, it undercuts legitimate businesses by illegal cost-cutting activity, and is often associated with exploitative behaviour like tax evasion and harmful working conditions.
"We will not allow the growth of a shadow economy for illegal migrants, so we are proposing to get tougher on employers who exploit illegal labour. At the same time, we want to make it easier for legitimate businesses by reducing the administrative costs of complying with right to work checks."
Among the proposals being put forward to penalise businesses are an increase in the maximum penalty for employing an illegal worker from the current rate of £10,000 to £20,000 for employers that repeatedly break the rules and the simplification of civil penalty enforcement.
The government is also putting forward alternative measures to help legitimate businesses stay within the rules. These include a reduction in the number of documents required by an employer to check that an individual has the right to work in the UK; the simplification of the guidance for employers and an overall simplification of the system.
A consultation on the proposals is to run for six weeks until August 20th. It is hoped that inviting viewpoints on the matter before the Immigration Bill is pushed through in full force later this year will ensure that employers and workers benefit from the changes.