Immigration – More Offences, Greater Penalties and New Charges.

The Government has recently published the Immigration Bill 2015-2016 which contains proposals to further curb illegal working and protect the exploitation of migrant workers. In particular, the Bill proposes:

  • increasing the penalties for employers who repeatedly employ illegal migrants as a source of cheap labour;
  • extending the existing criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant to apply where an employer has “reasonable cause to believe” that a person is an illegal worker – the applicable sentence will increase from two to potentially five years;
  • to create a new offence of illegal working which will enable the earnings of illegal workers to be seized;
  • the power to introduce an “immigration skills charge” on certain employers who sponsor skilled workers (i.e. workers on Tier 2 visas) from outside the EU – this is intended to reduce demand for migrant workers and is likely to mean an additional charge for any worker brought in on a Tier 2 visa; and
  • public authorities to be required to ensure that public sector workers in customer-facing roles speak fluent English.

It is envisaged that guidance will be provided in parallel with the passage of the Bill through Parliament.

The broadening of the criminal test for the employment of illegal workers will have relevance for all UK employers with an increased onus on (or incentive for) employers to consider an individual’s right to work and issues of legality during the recruitment process.  Please see our previous article for details of the documentary checks which need to be carried out by all employers.

Perhaps the most intriguing change and one potentially most fraught with difficulty is the new language skills requirement in the public sector.  This could prove practically significant in many respects, not least in its potential for discrimination claims.

Please contact us if you require advice on business immigration issues, such as the points-based immigration system, how to become a sponsor or ensuring that your staff have the necessary permits and visas.

Insights.

Discrimination and the Law #SolicitorChat with The Law Society
2nd July, 2020

With the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a focus on race discrimination in recruitment processes and workplaces. Andrew Knorpel discussed with The Law Society and…

No fault divorce gets Royal Assent
29th June, 2020

Bethan Campbell provides an update on the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill that will become an Act of Parliament having received Royal Assent on 25th June 2020.

A guide to Cohabitation Agreements #SolicitorChat with The Law Society
18th June, 2020

With restrictions in place and a lot of time at home with our partners, Judith Fitton discussed with The Law Society and other firms about Cohabitation Agreements #SolicitorChat

Flexible Furlough Scheme – The Devil’s In the Detail
18th June, 2020

Andrew Knorpel expands on his last Flexible Furlough Scheme post following the most recent information provided by the Government.