Fines to treble for rogue employers hiring illegal workers

Employers will face newly trebled fines of up to £60k for each worker they hire illegally under “the biggest shake-up since 2014” on penalties imposed on rogue employers and landlords.

Under government plans revealed yesterday [6 August] by immigration minister Robert Jenrick, writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said fines for landlords found to be accommodating multiple occupiers for the first time will increase from £1k per occupier to up to £10k per occupier.

Landlords found to be hosting a single lodger without lawful immigration status for the first time could be fined £5k, up from the existing maximum fine of £80, The Guardian said in its report on the plans.

Before the new fines come into effect at the start of next year, the Home Office will launch a consultation on actions that could be strengthened to deter licensed businesses from employing workers without lawful immigration status, The Guardian reported.

“We are going after the unscrupulous businesses that enable illegal migration,” Jenrick said. “Stopping the boats demands that we break the business model of the people smuggling gangs. 

“We are announcing the biggest shake-up since 2014 on the penalties imposed on rogue employers and landlords who seek to circumvent our immigration rules by hiring or renting to illegal migrants,” Jenrick went on to say. “This represents at least a trebling of the current fines, with employers who repeatedly offend liable for a £60k fine, up from £20k, for every worker they hire illegally. The fine for landlords will increase from £1k per occupier for a first breach to up to £10k per occupier.”

He added: “It’s only right that the size of the fine matches the severity of the offence – and that’s why we are increasing them by such significant amounts… As we ratchet up fines we are also stepping up enforcement activity so more rogue businesses are getting knocks on their door.”

A cross-government taskforce was launched earlier this year to promote collaboration on activity aimed at tackling illegal working. “Enforcement visits are now at their highest since 2019, are up by almost 50% on last year and we have already arrested more people on immigration enforcement in 2023 than during the whole of 2022,” Jenrick said.

The Telegraph also reported that nail bars, car washes, construction, social care and hospitality will be targeted in the new regime as key businesses exploiting migrants who have entered the UK illegally, often on small boats.

Earlier this month, Home Office immigration enforcement officers carried out 159 visits to construction sites, which resulted in the arrest of 105 foreign nationals working illegally. “With our changes,” Jenrick said, “these employers will be handed much tougher penalties, which will make it prohibitively expensive for them to offend again.

“We make no apologies for hitting these immigration offenders where it hurts: in their pockets.”

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