The Immigration Bill 2015/16 is currently making its way through parliament and is likely to be in force very soon.
The Home Office wants to make it harder for an illegal worker to live and work in the UK. The vast majority of compliant employers will have to be even more vigilant in establishing procedures that prevent employment of illegal workers, particularly in those sectors with a high employee turnover such as retail and hospitality.
In addition to the current £20,000 per illegal worker civil penalty, it will be a criminal offence to hire someone who an employer knows or has reasonable cause to believe is an illegal worker, with an increase in the maximum custodial sentence on indictment from two to five years for the employer.
The Bill introduces a power to close the business of an employer who continues to employ illegal workers for up to 48 hours. If the business can prove that the employer has conducted right to work checks the closure notice can be cancelled. Where this cannot be proved the closure may continue and the business will be subject to a greater degree of ongoing scrutiny around its right to work checks.
The Bill also introduces an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC). The ISC will be payable by employers sponsoring overseas workers. The Treasury will set the level of the charge, although the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has made general recommendations of £1,000 per immigrant worker.