Tougher Rules on Employing Illegal Workers

The Immigration Act 2016, which comes into effect on 12th July, will introduce a range of measures to crack down on businesses that employ migrants illegally.

The Act makes a number of changes to the criminal offence of employing illegal workers.

The Act introduces tougher sanctions on employers, increasing the maximum custodial sentence on indictment from 2, to 5 years. It also introduces a completely new power to close premises for up to 48 hours where a business employs illegal migrants.

The Act will also make it easier to prosecute employers who deliberately turn a blind eye to employing illegal workers. The existing criminal offence of ‘knowingly employing an illegal migrant’ will be extended to apply to where an employer knows or has ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that a person is an illegal worker.

The Immigration Act also makes illegal working a criminal offence in its own right, with a maximum custodial sentence of 6 months and/or a fine. Wages paid to the illegal worker can be seized as the proceeds of crime. A Government factsheet is available at:

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