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Legislation is to be introduced making it easier to prosecute employers who know or suspect that someone they employ has no right to work in the UK.
The Home Office announced on 25 August that measures to be included in a new Immigration Bill could close businesses down for up to 48 hours while employers proved they had carried out right to work checks on staff. The worst offenders would be placed under special measures, which could lead to continued closure and compliance checks.
New powers in the Bill will also make it easier to prosecute an employer who knows, or reasonably suspects, that the person they employ has no permission to work in the UK. The current maximum sentence for knowingly employing an illegal worker is to be increased from two to five years, in addition to heavy financial penalties already in place.
Further new powers will mean that any pub, off-licence or late night takeaway that fails to comply with immigration laws or employs illegal workers could be stripped of their licence to operate. The government is also considering extending the power to cover minicab drivers and operators.
For employees, a new offence of illegal working will allow wages to be seized as the proceeds of crime. Anyone prosecuted for the offence will also face a sentence of up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine in England and Wales.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: “Through our new Immigration Bill, illegal workers will face the prospect of a prison term and rogue employers could have their businesses closed, have their licences removed, or face prosecution if they continue to flout the law.”