Immigration Act 2016 – what do employers need to know?

Print publication


It is impossible to over-state the importance of employers staying up to date with current immigration rules and right to work requirements. Getting it wrong can lead to significant fines, reputational damage and, in serious cases, imprisonment.

The Immigration Act 2016 creates a new criminal offence of illegal working. The existing offence of ‘knowingly employing an illegal migrant has been widened to cover situations where an employer has ‘reasonable cause’ to believe that a person is an illegal worker. This change means that the burden of proof for prosecution has lowered significantly and conviction on indictment for this offence has also increased from two to five years imprisonment.

From April 2017, employers will be denied the National Insurance Contributions employment allowance for a period of one year if they are subject to a civil penalty for employing illegal workers.

The Act will also introduce a provision whereby, in the case of continued breaches, a notice can be issued to shut down a place of work for up to 48 hours where there is reason to believe that illegal workers are being employed. If the employer can prove that it has conducted the appropriate checks, the “closure notice” may be cancelled. Where it cannot, the business may be placed under special compliance requirements, including a period of continued closure.

Brexit will undoubtedly have an impact on free movement of labour and UK immigration rules generally. The detail of this is yet to be worked out and we will keep you updated via our newsletter and email updates.  Walker Morris has a business immigration team who can assist you with any immigration queries or concerns.  Please contact David Smedley or Andrew Rayment.