A case reported this month highlights the growing trend of the Home Office exerting financial, rather than criminal, penalties for employers who illegally employ workers.
Euorlinen UK Ltd, an industrial laundry, was investigated by Home Office immigration officers in 2013 for failing to comply with its statutory obligations under the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 which had resulted in the recruitment of three illegal workers. The company was fined £15,000 for this breach. However, as the company went into liquidation in 2014, the Home Office was unable to recoup this fine.
However, the Home Office sought an alternative penalty by taking action against the company’s director (who just happened to be a local government Councillor!). The Home Office investigation found that he was personally liable for failing to ensure the company carried out right to work checks and failed to declare illegal workers to HMRC. As a result, he is now prohibited from acting as a company director or from being involved in the management of a limited company for a period of six years.
The case serves as a warning to company directors that the repercussions for employing illegal workers extends beyond a financial penalty and could affect them personally. Employers should ensure that the carry out right to work checks before employees start work and repeat checks annually.