Scottish companies fined over £½m in illegal labour crackdown
Scottish companies have been fined over half a million pounds for hiring illegal workers.
A total of £670,000.00 pounds has been slapped on businesses since April 2008 in a move by the Home Office to crack down on those employing illegal staff.
One Scottish employer was hit by a £50,000 fine after being caught hiring illegal immigrants and an Aberdeen company has been forced to shut down after it was discovered three staff were working illegally.
A takeaway in the city’s Victoria Road was forced to close immediately after an unexpected visit from UK Border Agency inspectors and if now facing a fine of £30,000.
Employment law and HR experts, Empire HR are warning that the devastating fines could force many Scottish companies out of business, while some employers knowingly hiring illegal staff could also face a two year jail sentence under the new rules introduced by the Government in February last year.
They say the shocking fines are imposed on businesses regardless of whether they are aware that the immigrants are illegal and that companies still have to pay them even if they hired the staff in good faith.
And recent figures published by the Home Office demonstrate that an alarming number of small businesses are being targeted – often prompted by public telephone calls to the UK Border Agency alerting them that there may be illegal immigrants working there. Following intelligence led investigations; enforcement officers then catch employers by surprise.
Aberdeen-based Empire HR says employers are confused by the new immigration rules. Steve Cook, CEO of Empire HR, says the number of enquiries on employing foreign workers has doubled in the first half of this year.
Unfortunately it is often small to medium sized businesses that are hit by these fines as they tend to be dependent upon staff that frequently move from job to job which can make it difficult to keep up-to-date with all the pre-employment checks.
“These businesses are also likely to be struggling during tough financial times making it more probable that have cut back on the time spent on recruitment. However, these fines highlight how important it is to ensure that there are records demonstrating that all staff have permission to work in the UK. Pre-recruitment checks are not something that a business can risk cutting back on.”
He says a new points based immigration system, introduced late last year, means most employers need to revamp their pre employment checks in order to ensure that they do not fall foul of this complex scheme.
Mr Cook points out that “combined with anti discrimination laws, dealing with immigration is now a minefield for most businesses which often struggle to balance the need to avoid a discrimination claim with the need to comply with Home Office rules on employing illegal workers. This can be an absolute nightmare for employers who are unsure of how to deal with these issues in the workplace without offending the workers concerned."
The attached questions and answers have been provided by Empire HR for those wishing to know more about how they can protect their business from a fine.
Empire HR - 01224 701 383 or www.empirehr.com
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