The Minister

The law to prevent illegal working, claims its second ministerial victim:

The Immigration Minister Mark Harper has resigned not only because he employed a cleaner who did not have permission to work but also because the Minister could not provide a statutory defence.

In his resignation letter to David Cameron, Harper said he cannot now produce the copies of the documents he checked in 2007. He may have had a statutory defence were he able to produce appropriate copies.

The Baroness

In 2009, the Baroness Scotland when a government minister – she was Attorney General (the Attorney General’s office provides legal advice and support to Law Officers who give advice to government) was a victim of a fraud perpetrated by her housekeeper, who was unlawfully here and had used a forged passport. The Baroness was fined £5,000 for “unknowingly” employing an illegal worker. A penalty for “knowingly employing” is up to 2 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine!

Note: The Baroness was appointed Queens Counsel (a senior Barrister ) in 1991 and Attorney General in 2007. She steered the present rules about illegal working through Parliament… and she fell foul of the law!

The Duty

Employers have a duty to prevent illegal working by carrying out document checks to confirm that a person has a right to work in the UK. These checks must be conducted before a person be given work. If those checks are fulfilled and it turns out that the person does not have the right to work, an employer can put forward a statutory defence.

You can access the current guidance- October 2013 – on the Home Office website and even a brief glance will show how easily it is to overlook your duty. The penalties are severe.

According to the Home Office, checks used to conduct are “straightforward” involving a three step process and that you only have an “excuse”/ defence if you carry out the checks correctly!” Hmmmm……

The Future

Under the Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament and planned to become law this year, private landlords will have a similar duty placed upon them to ensure that they do not let property without conducting checks on the immigration status of potential tenants. Banks, as well checking on the rights to work of employees, checking a customer’s identity will also have to demonstrate that they have not made available banking facilities to those without lawful residence. GP’s and DVLA staff will also be required to complete immigration checks. Those found to have overstayed in the UK will find that their licences are revoked.

The Impact

If your face does not fit you could be faced with additional hurdles in accessing the rental market or in opening a bank account. The Home Affairs Committee has warned that landlords might be reluctant to rent properties to migrants if they are required to conduct immigration checks. The current penalty is £12,000 and the proposal is to increase it to £20,000.


ONE Immigration can help you to avoid potential problems and penalties by assisting you with checking documents and introducing procedures to assist you in meeting the duty to check, copy and retain the records.

Please contact us on 0116 2552110 and ask for Mr M Singh or Mr M Pabla or click here

Our fees depend upon employees you have, the number of checks we have to make, the current state of your employee records and whether you require a site visit.

ONE Immigration
February 2014


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