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Robert Jenrick and Suella Braverman

Ross Kennedy comments in HR Magazine

Fines for businesses employing illegal migrants to triple

8 August 2023

Fines for businesses that knowingly employ illegal migrants are set to triple from their current rate at the start of 2024 following new rules announced by the government on 7 August.

Fines for first time offenders will rise from £15,000 to £45,000, whereas repeat offenders will face fees rising from £20,000 to £60,000.

Landlords who knowingly rent property to illegal migrants will face similar fine hikes.

The government also announced the Home Office will consult on how to strengthen action against licensed businesses who are employing illegal workers.

Minister for immigration Robert Jenrick said the move will deter small boat crossings.

In a statement, he said: “Making it harder for illegal migrants to work and operate in the UK is vital to deterring dangerous, unnecessary small boat crossings.

“Unscrupulous landlords and employers who allow illegal working and renting enable the business model of the evil people smugglers to continue.”

Ross Kennedy, senior client manager at Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law, said the fines hikes are unlikely to tackle compliance problems.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “If checks are not being done already and an employer isn’t dissuaded by a risk of the already hefty £20,000 penalty, is £60,000 likely to do more, particularly if they consider the risk of it actually happening to be low?

“The government would be better off addressing the fall in enforcement – 911 penalties  in 2022 compared with 3,089 in 2016 – and then actually collecting those penalties.

“Increasing the risk is likely to be more effective than increasing the penalty.”

Kennedy also said the reforms will not deter small boat crossings.

He added: “Despite the immigration minister linking the changes to the small boats crossings, these changes don’t directly target the smugglers or those coming illegally, so may not act as the desired deterrent.

“They could make it more difficult for those here illegally to remain and support themselves, but may have little effect on the rogue employers or landlords.”