Navigating the complex labyrinth of employment law can be daunting, particularly for businesses and employers in the United Kingdom.
The UK’s Right to Work laws are a critical legislative area that often comes under the spotlight. Disregarding these laws can lead to serious consequences. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the implications of neglecting these laws for employers and employees.
The Right to Work (RTW) laws refer to a statutory obligation that all employers in the UK must adhere to, from corner shop owners to household brands and even the government itself!
It requires the employer to verify that all their employees, whether they’re UK, EU, or International nationals, are legally permitted to work in the UK. This includes checking and keeping records of their identification documents, like passports and visa documents, both during, throughout and even for two years after the end of the employment period.
Failing to comply with these RTW laws can have severe ramifications for businesses. Today, we will look at five very real impacts that being found guilty of employing an illegal worker can have on you.
If your business is subject to a Home Office investigation where illegal workers have been identified to be working with your business, then your business can face a fine, better known as a Referral Notice, of up to £20,000 per illegal worker under Section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.
It’s worth noting that there is no maximum limit on the number of fines that can be imposed on a business. So, if you’re found to have hired five illegal workers, you could face a £100,000 fine!
Similar to the fine, if you’re subject to prosecution under the same Section 15 Act during the Home Office investigation, then it could potentially lead to a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine! It’s important to note that there is no set’ red line’ where the government may begin this stage.
Beyond the fines and potential prosecution, there’s also a significant PR risk as the Home Office regularly publishes quarterly “Name and Shame” reports on its website, which lists the names, addresses, and fines of every employer caught employing illegal workers.
The list is broken down into the following regions (Data accurate for the 1st of October to the 31st of December 2022): London and the South East, Midlands and East, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, North West, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Wales and the South West. Furthermore, this issue is often picked up by local press, leading to prominent features within the community you’re based in!
If you employ even just one employee who requires a Sponsor licence, and your business is found to have employed an illegal worker, then your business could have your sponsor licence revoked, which could hinder your ability to recruit or support any migrant workers.
Should this occur to your business, then any migrant worker (Even if they meet all the Right to Work Criteria) employed in the UK under that licence would be required to have their employment terminated and would need to leave the UK within 60 days unless they can secure a suitable visa to stay or find another employer willing to sponsor them - This includes anyone else in your entire organisation.
Once you’ve lost your ‘Sponsorship’ licence, your entire organisation will be unable to regain the licence for 12 months.
The final impact is that when you’re found guilty of failure to comply with Section 15 of the 2006 Act, your company directors may risk being disqualified from being a director if the Home Office investigation finds that they were to have knowingly hired illegal workers.
This disqualification could last up to 15 years, during which they are barred from being a director of any UK registered company, any overseas company with a connection to the UK, or even being involved in forming, marketing or running a company, as well as having their name being publicly published on the Companies House database of disqualified directors.
One of the practical solutions to circumvent these five consequences associated with non-compliance is to adopt digital IDVT applications like Rightcheck. Rightcheck is the leading software solution that helps streamline and digitalise HR operations for any sized business across any sector, ensuring the efficiency and compliance of right-to-work checks. The platform allows swift and reliable verification of a candidate’s eligibility to work in 60 Seconds, reducing the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties.
The platform is designed to keep pace with legislative changes, helping businesses comply with evolving employment laws. Investing in an IDVT-based solution helps mitigate the risk of legal infractions and contributes to efficient HR operations, ultimately leading to a more secure and compliant business environment.
To learn more about our system, request your free demo today to learn more about the software and how it can support you.