Civil Penalty Notices
Receiving a Civil Penalty Notice can result in devastating reputational and financial damage to an organisation, no matter how large or small. In many cases, the issuing of a Civil Penalty Notice reaches the media, harming the brand of the business and affecting its ability to attract talented staff. Furthermore, the organisation’s name may be published by Immigration Enforcement to warn other businesses of the consequences of employing illegal migrants.
At RVS Solicitors, our business immigration team will act swiftly to mitigate the damage caused by a Civil Penalty Notice. We understand how they can be successfully challenged and the importance of complying with the correct procedures and strict timelines.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Why Are Civil Penalty Notices are Issued?
Civil Penalty Notices are designed to penalise employers who contravene UK immigration laws by employing illegal migrants. This seems obvious and fair, not only with regard to protecting the UK’s labour market, but also to ensure the safety of vulnerable migrants. Unfortunately, those who deliberately choose to hire illegal migrant labour often pay poorly and workers are sometimes viciously abused. Employers exploit illegal workers with the knowledge they will be too afraid to complain, fearing deportation. But the Civil Penalty regime also works to penalise employers who the Home Office believes have failed to exercise proper care and diligence when conducting Right to Work checks, thereby inadvertently employing illegal migrants.
How Much is the Fine for Employing an Illegal Worker?
The fine for employing an illegal worker is harsh; up to £20,000 per unlawful employee. Business owners found to have knowingly employed someone who does not have a legal right to work in the UK face five years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
How can a Civil Penalty Notice be Challenged?
Given the dire consequences of a Civil Penalty Notice, employers who receive one should seek professional legal advice from us immediately. A period of 28 days is available in which to respond to the Notice. There are several grounds on which a challenge to a Civil Penalty Notice can be made, including:
- the employer has a ‘statutory excuse’ – see below
- the people named in the Notice do not, in fact, work for the organisation
- concerns regarding those named in the Civil Penalty Notice have previously been reported to the Home Office by the organisation
- the Home Office has acted in excess of its statutory powers
- certain mitigating factors were not considered by the Home Office prior to issuing the Notice, for example, the organisation had no prior history of breaching its Sponsor Licence duties
What is Meant by a Statutory Excuse?
Most immigration Civil Penalty Notices are defended on the grounds that the employer carried out the correct Right To Work checks on the employee/s named in the Notice and therefore has a ‘statutory excuse’. If this is accepted by the Home Office, the employer will not have to pay the fine stated.
The key to being able to rely on a ‘statutory excuse’ is to have a strong HR system in place and Key Personnel who are aware of the importance of maintaining adequate records of not only Right to Work checks, but personal details of migrant workers and Residential Labour Market Tests. Employers who fail to maintain robust records of Right to Work checks will find it extremely difficult to rely on the ‘statutory excuse’.
To find out more about how we can assist you with Civil Penalty Notices, please contact our London office on 020 3372 5125 or complete our Online enquiry form to make an appointment. Find out more information on our fees here.