A quarterly report issued by the Home Office has outlined the penalties issued to employers throughout all regions of the UK in the first part of 2016. The changes brought into force by the Immigration Act 2016 will have an even greater impact soon. It is a pertinent time to assess the figures and study the potential impact on employers.

Below are the latest quarterly figures issued for the period 1 January to 31 March 2016:

London & South East

  • Number of Penalties Issued: 440
  • Number of Illegal Workers Found: 662
  • Total Value of Penalties (£): 7,780,000

Midlands & Eastern England

  • Number of Penalties Issued: 132
  • Number of Illegal Workers Found: 167
  • Total Value of Penalties (£): 1,935,000

North East, Yorkshire & Humberside

  • Number of Penalties Issued: 47
  • Number of Illegal Workers Found: 55
  • Total Value of Penalties (£): 650,000

North West England

  • Number of Penalties Issued: 109
  • Number of Illegal Workers Found: 155
  • Total Value of Penalties (£): 1,850,000

Scotland & Northern Ireland

  • Number of Penalties Issued: 40
  • Number of Illegal Workers Found: 60
  • Total Value of Penalties (£):800,000

Wales & South West England

  • Number of Penalties Issued: 70
  • Number of Illegal Workers Found: 90
  • Total Value of Penalties (£): 1,070,000

Totals:

  • Number of Penalties Issued: 838
  • Number of Illegal Workers Found: 1,195
  • Total Value of Penalties (£): 14,085,000

It is no surprise that the biggest totals in each category are in London and the South East, the region which is most densely populated, but the figures do also suggest that large areas such as North East, Yorkshire & Humberside and Scotland & Northern Ireland perhaps have better controls to prevent illegal workers settling and gaining employment.

The official publication does of course name and shame the businesses that have been fined, which this article has not done; but there are one or two household names on this list.

The previous report issued by the Home Office on 2 June 2016 covered the entire second half of 2015, so although the figures are not directly comparable it can be seen that there has been a proportionate increase in the totals across all categories in the first quarter of 2016. The previous six months’ period showed the following totals, with the figure in brackets showing a monthly average projected for three months as a comparator to the latest quarterly figures above:

  • 1217 penalties issued (608)
  • 1820 illegal workers found (910)
  • £21,587,500 value of penalties (£10,793,749)

This shows a significant increase in the figures across all categories in the early part of this year, most likely in the build-up to the implementation of the Immigration Bill 2016 which gained Royal Assent in May 2016, to become the Immigration Act.

Under the new legislation, employers found guilty of knowingly employing illegal workers can be jailed for up to five years and can be fined up to £20,000 for each illegal worker they employed. This is likely to mean that the next quarterly figures for the period 1 April to 30 June 2016 will see another sizeable increase, although in the longer term of course the aim is that the harsher penalties act as a deterrent, to reduce the figures. This will be aided by another new addition to the legislation which makes it harder for illegal workers to gain access to housing, driving licences and bank accounts, and therefore, discourages them from settling in the UK.

Ison Harrison Solicitors have a team of experts who can advise on both employment and immigration legal advice – please call 0113 284 5000.