UNITED KINGDOM – Changes to Prevention of Illegal Working Guidelines
The UK Border Agency recently published an updated version of it’s Full guide for employers on preventing illegal working in the UK. The new version includes updated guidance on accession workers and a new fast payment option.
The Home Office also recently published their response to a consultation on changes to the Prevention of Illegal Working Guidelines and the civil penalty scheme. More changes to the current regime are proposed, but the earliest that these are likely to take effect would be April 2014.
The restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals working in the UK will end on 31 December 2013. These restrictions required nationals of Bulgaria and Romania to hold a valid accession worker authorization document or to be exempt from authorization.
Similar accession worker restrictions on Croatian nationals came into force on 1 July 2013, and require employers to carry out document checks to ensure that any Croatian national employees are compliant.
Fast Payment Option
There is a new Fast Payment Option which allows employers to pay 20% less for a civil penalty as long as the qualifying criteria are met and payment is made in full and received within 21 days of the given date on the penalty notice.
In line with the proposed Immigration Bill, the maximum penalty per illegal worker will increase to £20,000 from the current maximum of £10,000. This amount would not apply for a first‐time breach of the guidelines.
Moreover, the Home Office proposes to remove the existing penalty discount for employers who can prove they have carried out at least partial checks on a worker’s documents, and plans to give employers much clearer guidance on the checking of documents.
Non-EEA family members of EEA nationals will still need to prove that they have the right to work in the UK on the basis of their relationship, but will no longer need to provide prescribed documents to do so.
These will still be issued to offending employers, but only if it is their first breach of the guidelines and they are also able to demonstrate generally compliant recruitment processes.
Frequency of Checks and Document Types
The Home Office proposes removing the requirement for employers to check the documents of their staff every year. Instead, documents will have to be checked at the beginning of the employment, and again when the employee’s visa expires.
In addition, the Home Office is committed to reducing the number and type of documents that employers will need to check to ensure employees have the right to work.
- Note the lifting of the requirement for employers to check the work authorization of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals from 1 January 2014, and the new requirement, in place since July 2013, to check the work authorization of Croatian nationals.
- Expect more changes to the Prevention of Illegal Working guidance in 2014.