The government is to launch an advertising campaign next week warning employers of the stiff penalties they face for hiring illegal migrant workers.
The Home Office will run a three-week radio and newspaper campaign outlining a new immigration policy, which is due to come into effect on 29 February and includes biometric ID cards for foreign nationals.
Immigration minister Liam Byrne said: “Illegal working attracts illegal migrants and undercuts British wages. That’s why [the government] is determined to shut it down. The message is clear for employers – we will not tolerate illegal working.”
The campaign initially targets the catering and road haulage industries, with the message: ‘If you hire illegal migrant workers you’re as illegal as they are’. One ad shows a truck with the words U R Nicked (pictured) emblazoned on the side, while another reveals a café called ‘Arrestaurante’.
However, the Home Office still has no idea which individual within a company would be jailed for the new offence of ‘knowingly employing an illegal immigrant’, announced in May. When asked whether human resources professionals, line managers, branch managers or even non-UK based chief executives would go to jail, a spokesman said: “We would not want to speculate. Each case would be judged when those cases develop.”
However, the Home Office’s director of managed migration, Paula Higson, said: “It is important that people see the government is taking this very seriously. We are looking at really serious flouting of immigration laws. If you are a legitimate employer working hard then you want a level playing field.”