Employers using foreign workers illegally face closure


BOND ADAMS EMPLOYMENT UPDATE by Dispute Resolution Partner, Rafique Patel

In an attempt to stop employers turning a blind eye to illegal working, new powers are introduced to serve employers with a closure notice where illegal working is suspected. This will prevent access to the firm’s premises for a maximum period of 48 hours.


A further order can then be made to prohibit or restrict access to the employer’s premises for a period of 12 months.


Again, there is no confirmed implementation date, but it is widely expected that these new powers will be created soon.


UK border officials will be given powers to temporarily close businesses that break the law by giving jobs to illegal immigrants, under new measures announced


The move comes as ministers are seeking to toughen curbs on rogue employers in response to fears that African and Middle Eastern immigrants are forcing their way into the UK from camps in the French port of Calais.


The restrictions, to be included in this autumn’s immigration bill, include creating a new criminal offence of illegal working, which will carry a jail term of up to six months, as well as giving authorities the power to seize earnings from illegal migrants.


Late-night takeaway shops and alcohol stores face revocation of their licences to sell food and alcohol if they are found to be employing foreigners who are in the UK without authorisation. Any business that repeatedly hires illegal migrants will be subject to 48-hour closures while border officials investigate.


Explaining the stricter rules, James Brokenshire, immigration minister, said the Home Office would continue to root out abuse and build a border system that works “in the best interests of the British people and those who play by the rules”.


“Anyone who thinks the UK is a soft touch should be in no doubt: if you are here illegally, we will take action to stop you from working, renting a flat, opening a bank account or driving a car,” he said.

“Through our new immigration bill, illegal workers will face the prospect of a prison term and rogue employers could have their businesses closed, have their licences removed, or face prosecution if they continue to flout the law.”


Estimates of the numbers of illegal immigrants in the UK vary considerably and the true figure could be anywhere between 420,000 and 860,000, according to the Oxford Migration Observatory.

But given the growing crisis in Calais — where up to 5,000 migrants from countries such as Iraq, Syria and Eritrea are sleeping rough while waiting for a chance to enter Britain — the government is under pressure to show it is taking action against those who manage to get in. The Home Office announced this month that border enforcement teams would carry out more raids on workplaces to identify and prosecute employers harbouring illegal workers.


The Labour party was, until recently, in the vanguard of support for tougher action on illegal immigration. Its election manifesto included proposals for a law to stop employers undercutting wages by exploiting migrant workers and an extension of the Gang masters Licensing Authority’s remit to seek out abuse.

The Conservatives have been more proactive on the issue since returning for a second term in government, adopting some of the opposition’s policies for their own immigration bill.


The Tories are battling to reduce the number of foreign arrivals in line with their renewed pledge to drive down net migration from 318,000 in 2014 to “tens of thousands”. However, official statistics due to be published this week are expected to show the overall figure remaining stubbornly high.



For advice on all aspects of employment law including representation in the employment tribunal, representation in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the courts, contact our partner Rafique Patel on rafique.patel@bondadams.com

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