When the Home Office finds that a business is employing illegal workers, they will issue a civil penalty notice letting the business owner know that they are employing someone who is not allowed to work in the UK.
What is Civil Penalty Notice for Illegal Working Employees?
The Civil Penalty Notice will require the employer to pay an amount of penalty for employing people who do not have the right to work in the UK or for breaching section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. The amount of penalty could go up to £20,000 for each illegal worker.
As a note for EEA citizens and their dependants, since 1 July 2021, they are not allowed to work in the UK without a valid immigration status. Which means employing an EEA National with no proper right to work could also lead to being fined by the Home Office.
What are the consequences of Civil Penalty Notice?
As mentioned above, normally, the employer could be fined up to £20,000 per illegal employee. In some serious cases, the employer could face criminal conviction with up to 5-year prison sentence and unlimited fine.
Civil Penalty Notices may also result in the closure of the business, the director being disqualified, and the business income made from employing illegal workers being seized.
The employer may also risk losing their skilled foreign workers and the chance hiring foreign workers for the business in the future.
Phase 1 - What to do if you receive a Response Form from Home Office saying that they have evidence indicating that you are hiring illegal workers?
The Civil Penalty Process often starts with a Referral Notice being sent to the Civil Penalty Compliance Team. After that, the Home Office will send a Response Form to your business premises stating that the Home Office has evidence which indicates that you are the owner of the business where they have encountered suspected illegal workers.
Receiving this Form means that the Home Office officials have been conducting an investigation and determined already that there are illegal workers who are working at your workplace.
This Form will ask you to confirm:
Your business details;
If you have taken any document checks to the illegal workers being identified in the Notice;
If you have reported that you are suspicious about the right to work of those workers;
If you have any supporting evidence.
You will be asked to complete this form and return it within the given deadline.
This is the most important point during the Civil Penalty process because you are given the opportunity to provide evidence which can help the caseworker decide whether to issue the penalty or not. The initial information you provide can help shape the outcome of the case and save your cost.
From our experience, most business owners either ignored the Form or filled incorrect information. The consequence is that the Home Office caseworker will rely on the information you provide.
Our expert immigration lawyers have assisted our business clients in not only completing the Form but also providing necessary information and successfully pursued the Home Office to drop the charges and issue a No Action Notice.
By completing and providing information through the Form, we have helped our business clients anticipate and prepare the necessary evidence to support their case at the very first stage of the case should the Home Office decide to issue a Civil Penalty Notice.
We charge a fixed fee for this stage of the work which is £600 for up to 3 workers who are listed on the form, if you have more workers please contact us for a competitive quote.
Phase 2 - What to do if you receive a Civil Penalty Notice?
After receiving your Response Form or if the deadline has lapsed, the Home Office caseworker will consider whether you are liable for a civil penalty and what the amount should be.
Upon assessment of all available evidence, they will decide one of the following outcomes:
To issue a Civil Penalty Notice; or
To issue a Warning Notice; or
To issue a No Action Notice
In the Civil Penalty Notice, you will be informed of:
The reason why you are held liable and which illegal workers you are liable for;
The breach date;
The amount of penalty you have to pay;
Options for payment.
At this point, you will be left with 2 options:
Pay the penalty; or
Object the Civil Penalty Notice.
If you want to pay the penalty, you may be entitled to reduction of 30% if you pay within the deadline. It means, however, that you agree with the Home Office on the penalty which leaves a negative record in employing foreign workers at Home Office and puts your business under the Home Office watch, if you ever tried to obtain a Sponsor Licence to employ a migrant worker in the future it could lead to a refusal.
If you don’t agree with the Home Office on the Civil Penalty Notice, you can object it by using the Objection Form.
At NIDO, our expert business immigration team has helped business clients assess the situation, gather evidence to the finest details for the objection leading to a far more positive outcome than our clients expected.
Further, with expertise in business immigration, we have advised our clients on the most suitable grounds for the objection in which we argue that:
Whether our clients are liable to pay the penalty;
Whether our clients have any reasonable excuses;
Whether the amount of penalty is too high and unreasonable.
The experience and knowledge of our experts will ensure that no detail will be left behind so that the caseworker will need to review the additional evidence. The caseworker then can either cancelled the penalty, replace it with a warning, or decrease, maintain, or even increase the penalty amount.
Should the caseworker decide to increase the penalty amount, you also are allowed to file either another objection to the new notice or an appeal.
Phase 3 - What to do if the objection to civil penalty notice is unsuccessful?
Not every case is successful at civil penalty objection phase because it depends on the complexity of the case and how a caseworker handles it.
Our business immigration lawyers at NIDO always try to predict and anticipate the worst-case scenario at the very first stage of the case so that we can advise and place our client in an active position.
At this stage, we will help lodge an appeal at the County Court together with the grounds of appeal and prepare necessary evidence.
If the appeal is successful, the court may cancel or reduce the penalty that you have to pay.
Our legal fees for phases 2 and 3 are between £1,000 and £3,000 depending on the complexity of your case.
Why choose NIDO to assist and advise you on a Civil Penalty Notice?
At NIDO, our experienced team of business immigration law experts will walk you through every phase of the objection and appeal on the civil penalty.
Our experience and full understanding in current practice, latest update and practical know-how of immigration law, civil penalty process and compliance guidance will gather the smallest detail supporting your case and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Contact us today for a free consultation at +44 (0) 333 300 3497 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.