Employers could face prison for hiring illegal workers

Employers could face a prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine if they knowingly employ illegal workers.

The Home Office has begun talks with employers on implementing new legislation to combat illegal workers as part of its Illegal Working Action Plan.

Civil penalties will be levied on organisations which have been negligent in carrying out checks on workers. The levels at which the fines are set and how they are imposed is now the subject of a consultation published today. Employers will be expected to check job applicants’ birth certificates or passports.

Liam Byrne, immigration minister, said: “We have to close down the illegal jobs that tempt people to try their luck coming to Britain. That means making it easier for companies to check whether someone is here legally – but also coming down much harder on businesses which break the rules of turn a blind eye.”

The action plan includes a new pilot project to help British businesses check migrants’ identity and right to work.