The CBI has welcomed the government’s announcement that it will change the law on National Insurance numbers as part of a crackdown on illegal workers.
But the employers’ group warned that it is not up to employers to check whether National Insurance numbers have been authorised correctly.
Anthony Thompson, head of employment at the CBI, said: “It is critical to tighten the rules to restore confidence in the current system among employers.
“The apparent ease with which National Insurance numbers can be obtained makes an already-complex situation even more complicated – and even the most rigorous of firms can unwittingly make a mistake. Any tightening of the rules which assists business will be welcome.”
It emerged yesterday that National Insurance numbers were issued to 3,300 suspected illegal immigrants in 2004-2005 because of a loophole in the application system.
The Department for Work and Pensions admitted that JobCentre staff must hand out the numbers to people who have found employment but have no legal papers.
Under government plans, anyone knowingly employing illegal workers could be jailed for two years or face an unlimited fine.