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Employers beware: increased number of immigration raids expected

With the issue of migrants seeking to cross the border in Calais remaining at the forefront of the political and media agenda, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire has focussed his attention on UK businesses and given "rogue employers" advance warning of an updated regime in a further effort to clamp down on illegal working.

What is happening?

Mr Brokenshire has warned that Immigration Enforcement Teams are preparing to carry out a surge of raids on UK employers this Autumn. The Times has reported that that the focus of these raids is expected to be building sites, cleaning contractors and care homes.

It also appears that the breadth of these raids is to be increased with a multi-disciplinary approach being taken.

The Government is of the view that businesses that employ illegal migrants are also likely to breach health and safety rules and pay insufficient tax, meaning that bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive, HMRC and the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority can be expected to attend such raids along with the Immigration Enforcement Team.

Employing an illegal worker has a fine of £20,000 per worker attached to it and those employers who knowingly employ an illegal worker can find themselves sentenced to up to two years in jail.

How does this affect me?

All employers should have a well established policy and procedure in place for checking their workers’ right to work in the UK.

This procedure should be followed during every recruitment exercise and should be well publicised in the business. Evidence of the checks carried out and the workers’ documents must be retained and readily available in the event of a raid.

As well as looking for evidence of illegal working during a raid, the Immigration Compliance Officers will be checking the practices and systems of those organisations who are registered sponsors. If there are concerns over your compliance with your record keeping and reporting duties, now is the time to carry out an internal audit.

Common areas where sponsors become unstuck are:

  • not having notified UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) via the Sponsor Management System (SMS) that you are no longer sponsoring a migrant worker
  • not keeping each sponsored migrant’s contact details up to date (including UK residential address, home and mobile telephone number)
  • not having notified UKVI via the SMS of any significant changes in the migrant’s circumstances such as the location that they are employed at changes or a change in salary level due to maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave

Finally, during a raid, the Compliance Officer will without a doubt want to talk to your migrant workers, HR team and key authorised personnel – make sure you know who these are and where they are on any given day.

How can Ward Hadaway help?

For more information on how we can help your business comply with immigration legislation, please get in touch.