Against the background of migrants perilously crossing the Mediterranean on often little better than lilos and the continuing news reports of illegal migrants swamping Calais, the government has made a further pledge to crack-down hard on those unscrupulous employers who may be tempted to employ and exploit them.
In an interview with the Times, James Brokenshire, Immigration Minister, has confirmed that this autumn there will be a renewed and concerted round of Home Office raids and checks carried out, with particular emphasis on building sites, contract cleaners and care homes.
Mr Brokenshire commented: “Rogue employers who give jobs to illegal migrants are denying work to UK citizens and legal migrants and helping drive down wages.” He went on to say that employers who illegally employ migrants will be “hit from all angles” in order to “take away the unfair advantage” gained.
It has been suggested that the raids will be in the hundreds.
The initiative will involve the Home Office acting in concert with HM Revenue and Customs, the Gangmasters’ Licensing Authority, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Safety Executive, with the stated intention of creating a hostile environment for illegal working.
There are those who argue that the greatest threat to jobs for UK citizens is legal migrants from Eastern Europe as opposed to illegal workers. Regardless of whether employers view the proposal as a draconian deterrent to asylum seekers or a proportionate means of curbing economic migration and human exploitation, the fact remains that any employer found to be negligently employing anyone without the right to work is liable to a fine of up to £20,000 per employee. For those employers who knowingly employ such migrants the fine is unlimited and directors also risk imprisonment of up to two years.
Notwithstanding that the government is focussing on what it considers to be potentially rogue employers within specific identified sectors, the net is being cast wide and all employers should ensure that their right to work checks are firmly in place and remain Home Office compliant in order to obtain the statutory excuse from such fines and penalties.
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