Today, the Government has announced that it will be tripling the fines for employers and landlords who employ or rent property to illegal migrants in what has been described as the “biggest shake up” of civil penalties since 2014.
From early 2024, employers will face initial fines of up to £45,000 per illegal worker who does not have lawful immigration status – a huge increase from the existing minimum of £15,000. For repeat breaches, fines will rise from £20,000 to £60,000. In a further bid to clamp down on unscrupulous employers, the Home Office also intends to launch a consultation on actions that could be strengthened to deter licensed businesses from employing workers without lawful immigration status.
Fines for landlords who are found to be hosting a lodger without lawful immigration status will also increase significantly, with the penalty per lodger rising from £80 to £5,000. If they are found to be accommodating multiple occupiers for the first time, they could face a fine of £10,000 per occupier – a sharp increase from the £1,000 maximum when civil penalties were originally introduced in 2014.
According to the Government department, since 2018, some 4,000 civil penalties (totalling £74m) have been issued to employers and more than 230 (valued at £215,500) have been handed to landlords. This comes (in part) following a significant clamp down by the Home Office on immigration enforcement activity over the last year, with official visits targeting workers without lawful immigration status up by 50% – its highest level since 2019.
The tougher fines have been put forward by the Government’s immigration taskforce as doubts grow over whether the Government will be able to cut the number of small boats arriving in the UK by the end of 2023, as asylum seekers prepare to arrive on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset in the coming days.
Setting out the new fines, the Government adds that employers and landlords should be conducting the appropriate checks on those that they employ and house or face ‘significantly tougher penalties’. If you need support in conducting your pre-employment right to work checks, get in touch with our team of expert immigration lawyers.