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February’s Employment Law Digest – Updated illegal working penalty data published by the Home Office

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has published its latest reports setting out the illegal working penalties which it has issued between the period 1 July to 30 September 2023, along with details of the businesses which have been "named and shamed" across the various regions.

In the North West, 65 penalties were issued in respect of 118 illegal workers, resulting in penalties of £1.37 million. As expected, the fines across London and the South East were the highest at approximately £2.6 million. Interestingly, the highest number of illegal workers were found in the Midlands and Eastern England region.

Overall, some 500 penalties were issued across the UK in respect of just over 750 illegal workers, with total penalties issued of just under £9 million.

This is a significant wake up call for businesses, especially as the potential penalty for employing illegal workers has now tripled to £60,000 per illegal worker. A first offence will now trigger a potential fine of £45,000.

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If the penalties for Q3 2023 had been issued under the new penalty regime, this could have resulted in fines of between £27 and £45 million.

Given these new financial penalties and the increased emphasis on enforcement activity by UKVI, it is vital that businesses take immediate steps to make sure that their right to work checking processes are robust and fully compliant with the current rules.

For further information, please contact one of Ward Hadaway’s specialist Immigration Lawyers. We can help your business identify any problem areas, mitigate any risks and address any gaps through training and knowledge sharing.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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Laura Darnley

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