A new Immigration Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May and introduced to Parliament in October 2015. The Bill aims to make it easier for the Government to clamp down on illegal workers and their employers and increasing the punishments to both.
- Illegal working is a criminal offence. The new bill proposes that wages be seized as proceeds of crime with possible imposition of sentences of imprisonment and unlimited fines.
- Employers can receive harsher sentences for employing illegal workers, with potential to impose custodial sentences of up to five years.
- The Bill also proposes an introduction of a new 48 hour premises closure notice where there is no evidence of Right to Work checks having been carried out. Subsequent closure notices and compliance periods will apply for more serious cases.
- Alcohol licenses will become conditional on not breaching immigration laws including not employing illegal workers.
The new Bill, if passed, will have a significant effect on employers employing migrants. There will be stricter penalties for employers that could mean significant custodial sentences for individuals, bankruptcy and the total failure of businesses, particularly licensed premises.