Jail threat to HR directors under new migrant worker regime

HR directors could be jailed and firms fined up to £10,000 under new immigration rules that come into effect today (29 February).

Employers who knowingly hire illegal migrant workers face being hit with a £10,000 fine and, in extreme cases, HR professionals could risk being jailed. Firms could also be removed as a legitimate sponsor of migrant workers on the Border and Immigration Agency’s register.

The changes are part of the government’s new points-based system which toughens entry criteria for non-European economic area migrants wanting to work in the UK. The first immigration route to be removed will be the current highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP), which will be replaced by tier 1 of the new system.

Julia Onslow-Cole, partner at business consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “Some major advantages will be lost, including important provisions relating to holders of MBAs, which in-turn could affect employers in relation to their ability to legally hire people with this qualification.

“We advise firms to begin putting into place, now, procedures to ensure they remain compliant with the new rules to avoid any disruption to business.”

Sponsors will be required to have the following processes in place to be compliant:

  • Join a central sponsorship register before employing a non-EEA national
  • Assess the suitability of current and prospective assignees, confirming with evidence that they meet the prescribed requirements
  • Keep accurate records of prescribed employee data
  • Report to the Home Office all changes to both the sponsor and assignee’s circumstances.

“Firms are at risk of being non-compliant if they choose to do nothing, including areas such as the legal, banking, technology and engineering professions that are increasingly reliant on employing personnel from overseas on both long and short-term contracts,” Onslow-Cole added.

Listen to Personnel Today’s special podcast on the new immigration rules.

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