UK Visas & Immigration (“UKVI”) has published its quarterly report showing the number of civil penalties for illegal workers found in each region of the UK between 1 April and 30 September 2018 (“the specified period”). During the specified period, the London & South East region was found to have the highest number and greatest value of penalties and the highest number of illegal workers. To access UKVI’s quarterly report, please click here.

Figures published by UKVI show that the value of penalties issued during the specified period in the London & South East region ranged from £10,000 up to £60,000 (the latter penalty being imposed to a kebab house in London). The latest report published suggests that UKVI’s target appears to be restaurants and food chains; however, the report only lists employers who have been issued with civil penalties and who have either (i) not paid the civil penalties or are not making the regular payments towards them within the prescribed timeframe after they have exhausted all of their object and/or appeal rights or (ii) they have been served with a second or further penalty once they have they have exhausted all their objection or appeal rights regardless of whether they have made any payments. Therefore, employers who have been issued with civil penalties but have paid the penalties within the required timeframe are for example excluded from the list. From our experience, we know that civil penalties are being issued in a number of other sectors so it is important to remember that the published list is not the complete picture!

The latest quarterly figures confirm that there has been a slowdown in enforcement activity which has in part been attributable to the lack of resources in the enforcement teams at UKVI following the Windrush saga.

Whilst Brexit is at the top of the UK immigration agenda at this moment in time, these figures are a useful reminder to employers in the UK that UKVI is still tackling illegal working. Employers should ensure that they have the correct documents in place to confirm an individual’s status to work in the UK in order to avoid being caught by the government’s hostile environment policies.

The Immigration team at Bates Wells Braithwaite has extensive experience in advising on corporate risk inrelation to suspected illegal workers and conducting immigration audits. If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Chetal Patel, a Partner in the Immigration Department.