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Immigration: are the government passing the buck to employers and landlords?

Immigration is big news. Since the General Election – where it remained glued to the tip of every politicians’ tongue – the current establishment are keen to be seen flexing their muscles in a crackdown on illegal immigration. Business and housing feature prominently in the government’s bolstered plan of action. So in this week’s blog we’ll be exploring the impact of employing illegal immigrants, and the consequences to employers who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Many who come to the UK are said to be economic migrants, looking to find work where the wages are higher and the working conditions are better. Unfortunately, these people are a ready pool of labour to be exploited by ‘rogue’ employers who run roughshod over the prescribed checks. This exploitation in turn hurts all in our society.

Those prepared to ignore employment legislation and hire illegal immigrants are also likely to breach health and safety rules as well as underpay tax. It is therefore bad news all round as exploited workers can operate in unsafe environments, the government’s purse is short-changed, wage levels along with the National Minimum Wage are driven down and responsible competitors are undermined. If a rogue employer is found out they can be fined up to £20,000 per illegal worker discovered. They may also find themselves behind bars for up to two years!

The Home Office have confirmed that they are preparing raids on three low-paid low-skilled ‘shadow economies’: care homes, building sites and cleaning firms. So it is more important than ever to ensure that your process for ID checking potential employees is up to scratch. The HR Dept can of course help keep you on the right side of the law.

And watch out landlords! A pilot scheme due to roll out this Autumn on the back of the 2014 Immigration Act requires that landlords check whether individual tenants have the right to rent properties in the UK. Fail to comply and landlords could be slapped with a fine of £3,000 per resident and potentially up to five years in prison!

Landlords will also be given the power to evict those without the right to live in the UK – in some cases without needing a court order, from the upcoming Immigration Bill this autumn. It’s unclear whether landlords are to bear the costs of the eviction, and how such rules would comply with the Human Rights Act which grants people the right to family and a private life.

Without doubt the government will be doing more to crack down on business’s exploiting illegal migrants as part of the Immigration Bill. Get in touch with The HR Dept to find out more.