Increases to illegal working penalties
Fines under the right-to-work civil penalty scheme are to be tripled, from February 2024, for employers who breach the rules.
The penalty for employing someone illegally will rise from £15,000 to £45,000 per illegal worker. Repeat breaches could attract a fine of up to £60,000, up from £20,000.
The revised Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working: Right to Work Scheme for Employers which deals with these increased penalties comes into force for right-to-work checks (including follow up checks) taken on or after 13 February 2024. The code sets out:
- how an employer may establish a statutory excuse against liability for an illegal working civil penalty
- an overview of the process under which the civil penalty regime is administered, and
- how liability is determined and the penalty amount is calculated for a first breach and a repeat breach of the right to work scheme
These increases only consider the civil liability. An employer can also face criminal liability if it knowingly employs someone who does not have the correct permission to work in the UK – up to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
An employer can obtain a statutory excuse against liability for an illegal working civil penalty by carrying out right to work checks in line with Home Office guidance.