Home Office advertising campaign warns of penalties for hiring illegal migrant workers

The government is to launch an advertising campaign next week warning employers of the stiff penalties they face for hiring illegal migrant workers.

UK bosses face up to two years in prison or unlimited fines for every illegal individual they ‘knowingly’ employ.

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.”

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