UK Visas and Immigration have published a report showing the total number of fines (civil penalties) for illegal working given to employers in 1 July 2015 to 31 December 2015. In that period 1820 illegal workers were found, with 1271 penalties issued coming to a total of £21.5m. Currently it is a criminal offence to ‘knowingly’ employ an illegal worker and employers can face an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison. From 12 July 2016, S.35 of the Immigration Act 2016 extends the existing criminal offence to also included a situation where the employer has ‘reasonable cause’ to believe that the employee is an illegal worker and the maximum term of imprisonment for conviction will increase from two years to five years.
Current guidance on conducting illegal working checks can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website.