Government clamps down on unscrupulous employers

The Home Secretary has announced new measures to tackle illegal working that
will clamp down on unscrupulous employers.

Changes to the law will make it easier to prosecute companies that employ
illegal workers, but David Blunkett said they would also make it simpler for
legitimate businesses to remain inside the law.

Blunkett promised to issue new guidance for employers to make clear exactly
what documents are required to prove an individual is entitled to work in the

A number of documents that have been exploited by forgers will no longer
provide a defence against prosecution for illegal employment. The new
regulations will come into force on 1 May.

The Government is also considering increasing the penalty for companies
breaking the rules. Blunkett said the Government was increasing enforcement
activity and giving immigration officials greater powers to raid business premises.

"Illegal working is a modern-day slave trade run by organised
criminals. It exploits vulnerable people, undermines fair business competition
and the minimum wage, deprives the economy of tax and acts as a pull factor for
illegal immigration.

"Illegal working cannot be tackled by the Government alone and we have
been working closely with employers and unions to draw up these measures.
Employers have a duty to make proper checks on employees," he said.

Efforts to beat gang masters trafficking illegal workers is also being
stepped up through stronger border controls and a greater number of enforcement

In February, 20 cockle pickers, thought to be working illegally, were killed
at Morecambe Bay in Lancashire.

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