The Immigration, Asylum & Nationality Act 2006 (“IANA 2006”), makes employers responsible for preventing illegal working in the UK. By now, we are all too familiar with the civil penalty regime under IANA 2006 and section 35 of the Immigration Act 2016 which allows the Home Office to commence criminal proceedings against employers who know or have reasonable cause to believe that they are employing someone illegally.
However, there is also another way in which those who breach immigration law may be penalised. There are an increasing number of reports where the Insolvency Service has taken action and removed directors from the market place, regardless of whether the company was in liquidation or not.
Last month, the Home Office reported that the directors of 11 separate businesses across the UK had been recently disqualified for failing to ensure that their companies complied with statutory obligations under IANA 2006.
Here, the businesses were visited by Immigration Enforcement and had failed to produce documents which confirmed certain employees had the correct permission to work in the UK. The businesses included a textiles manufacturer, a petrol station and several restaurants in London, Newbury, Reading, Slough and Leicester.
Following their visits, Immigration Officers issued civil penalty notice to the employers; between them, the businesses had employed 39 illegal workers and were fined a total of £450,000. After the fines were not paid, the cases were referred to the Insolvency Service who carried out their own investigations, leading to the disqualification of the 11 directors. Each of the disqualified directors has now been banned from being a company director or being involved in the management of a company for 6 years.
It is therefore crucial for business owners to ensure their HR staff carry out the prescribed document checks correctly and they respond to any information requests/civil penalty notices within the deadline set.
If you have been issued with an information request or wish to challenge a civil penalty, please get in contact with our business immigration team today.