British companies found to be employing illegal migrant workers were fined more than £24m in 2014 – a 75 percent increase on the previous year.
Figures obtained by employment outsourcing firm Parasol show that the gross value of civil penalties issued between January and December 2014 was £24,652,500.That’s compared to the £14,107,750 recouped by the Home Office in 2013. The 2012 total was £10,775,500. The increase comes after the maximum civil penalty was doubled from £10,000 to £20,000 per illegal worker in May 2014.Parasol’s Freedom of Information Act request also reveals that 2,262 civil penalties were issued to employers of illegal workers in the UK last year. That represents a 24 percent increase on the 2013 calendar year figure of 1,822.
Parasol, which carries out right-to-work checks on thousands of workers every year, described the figures as a wake-up call for employers. Managing director Derek Kelly said: “These figures underline the growing cost to UK PLC of illegal working, and suggest that the recent increase in the maximum fine has already made an impact. Failure to carry out the proper checks when hiring foreign nationals is a problem that persists amongst employers. More than ever, it’s vital that hirers conduct due diligence during the recruitment process.”
The Immigration Act 2014 made two amendments to the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 – putting in place a ‘sequential’ objection and appeals process designed to aid the recovery of civil penalty debts in the courts.
However, the majority of recent changes to the civil penalty scheme came via secondary legislation that amended the Orders and Codes of Practice. As well as the increase in the maximum fine, document checks were simplified and the methodology for calculating penalties was updated.
Responding to Parasol’s information request, a spokesman for the Home Office immigration enforcement team said: “The legislative changes to civil penalties are part of a wider package of reform to the way in which we prevent illegal working.
“This includes significantly increased operational enforcement activity, reform of the way in which we administer civil penalties, and reform of the way in which we recover unpaid penalties administratively.”
The spokesman added that the reforms would “ensure there are real and enforced consequences for employers who repeatedly exploit illegal workers.