New stricter rules are in force from 12th July 2016 regarding employment of illegal workers as a result of the Immigraton Act 2016. It is now a criminal offence where an employer has ‘reasonable cause’ to believe that an employee is working illegally i.e. negligence through intentionally failing to check will not be an excuse. Previously the offence was only where the employer did so ‘knowingly’.
The maximum prison sentence has also increased from 2 years to 5 years, although the financial civil penalty of £20,000 for each illegal worker remains the same. There is also a new criminal offence for workers working illegally, punishable by a maximum of 6 months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both. Their wages could be seized as proceeds of crime.