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Employers are once again facing fines if they fail to check their employees’ eligibility to work in the UK.
For much of 2020, with the UK in the grip of the Covid pandemic, the Home Office did not issue any right-to-work fines but in the final quarter of last year 77 fines were issued.
It is expected that the number of investigations will rise as lockdown restrictions ease and they may increase substantially after 30 June – which is when EU employees will need to show proof of eligibility to work in the UK.
Right-to-work penalties are issued to businesses if they employ someone they knew, or had reasonable cause to believe, did not have the right to work in the UK. Employers must see an original passport or birth certificate and keep copies of necessary documents with signatures and dates.
In the most serious cases, individuals at businesses could even be imprisoned for up to five years or face an unlimited fine if they knew or had reasonable cause to believe that they were employing an illegal worker. According to immigration law experts this criminal sanction could extend to a director, manager or secretary of the business or a person purporting to act as a director, manager or secretary, so it could be far reaching in scope.
As for civil penalties, businesses could face fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.
Chetal Patel, partner at City law fi