The Home Office is intensifying its efforts against unauthorised employment, particularly in the hospitality sector. The government's focus on curbing illegal employment will see enforcement actions increase by up to 50% in 2023.
Understanding the Law
Employers face steeper fines for non-compliance, with penalties escalating from£15,000 to £45,000 for each unauthorised worker, and repeat offences can cost up to £60,000 per worker.
Given the Home Office's focus on the hospitality industry, businesses in this sector are particularly at risk of receiving penalties. To minimise this risk, it's essential to adhere to the following five steps:
Preparation for Unannounced Inspections
Develop clear escalation policies for unexpected Home Office visits or communications. Training front-of-house staff on how to react and whom to contact during such visits is crucial for minimising disruptions. Ensure staff members liaising with the Home Office understand work authorisation requirements and data privacy obligations.
Review Work Authorisation Procedures
Maintain robust work authorisation processes, including pre-employment checks and ongoing visa tracking. With the recent shift towards digital verification (despite some requiring in-person document checks), digital solutions like Recruiting Right UK are advisable.
Organise Work Authorisation Documentation
Conduct audits of work authorisation files for all employees, ensuring correct documentation and compliance with immigration permissions. This includes reviewing mandatory documents for sponsored workers, which can be done internally or through external audits for an unbiased analysis.
Examine All Worker Permits
Reassess the approach to verifying work authorisation for non-direct employees. Pay special attention to visa types that permit self-employment and avoid common pitfalls like employing student visa holders for self-employment roles.
Regularly train staff responsible for work authorisation checks to keep their knowledge current.
A Cautionary Note
Non-compliant employers risk public naming on the Home Office website and severe reputational damage. For sponsor license holders, penalties may lead to license revocation, causing significant operational disruptions.
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