Immigration Bill 2015-16
Time for hotels to prepare or face spot checks and temporary closure
The Immigration Bill 2015-16, which is currently working its way through Parliament, is intended to clamp down on illegal immigration, tackle the exploitation of low-skilled workers and punish those that facilitate this exploitation.
The Bill provides immigration officers with considerable more powers including:
- The ability to close down any business suspected of employing illegal immigrants for up to 48 hours while checks are carried out; and
- The power to seize the wages of employees found to be working illegally.
The Government already publishes lists of businesses that are served civil penalty notices thereby ensuring maximum damage in both monetary and reputational terms. While there have been reports of immigration officers attempting to halt business in some London hotels to carry out checks, this is not currently legal.
Antonia Torr, Head of Immigration services at Howard Kennedy comments:
The Home Office has made it clear that they will not tolerate lip service to the new rules, which are likely to become law by July assuming the Bill continues to progress without any complications.
The consequence of any failures will be severe. Not only will the Home Office be able to shut down any business suspected of wrongdoing for up to 48 hours, there is the potential that closure could be extended should the appropriate court order be obtained. Immigration Officers will also have increased powers to search a business premise and seize documents if they believe those documents to be related to suspected illegal activities, such as suspected illegal working.
Businesses that employ a high number of low-skilled workers, for example, hotels, retailers and manufacturing companies, should put in place thorough procedures to ensure there are no illegal immigrants amongst the workforce. For example, by regularly carrying out ID checks on passports and biometric residence permits (BRPs).
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