On-the-spot fines of up to £2000 will be meted out to employers who
hire illegal workers under government proposals unveiled last week. The
government's Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill will introduce a
new civil penalty of up to £2000 for those who employ illegal workers.
The employer will not be liable for the fine if it can show that it
complied with any "prescribed requirements" and did not know that the
employee was not eligible to work in the UK. The Bill also creates a
new criminal offence of "knowingly employing an illegal worker" which
will render an employer liable to a custodial sentence of up to two
years and/or an unlimited fine. Commentators have noted that parents
who hire illegal immigrants as nannies may be caught out by this
change, although the government has stated that the focus of
implementation controls will be largely on businesses.
That said, however, the new laws will be hard to police as the
system will be enforced by only 12 immigration officers, at an annual
cost of less than £500,000. With such limited resources, it is not
clear whether or not the Bill will have an impact on UK businesses
proportionate to the press coverage it has received.