By Daniel Hunter
A business owner whose company carries out right-to-work checks on thousands of workers every year has labelled the coalition’s flagship Immigration Bill a “missed opportunity” to clamp down on rogue employers.
Derek Kelly, managing director of outsourced employment provider Parasol, believes the newly-published Bill won’t stop the exploitation of illegal workers by unethical employers.
He said: “Doubling the maximum fine per illegal worker from £10,000 to £20,000 is all well and good, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem.
“Companies that exploit workers who aren’t legally entitled to work here will continue to do so. Financial penalties do not create a sufficient deterrent, as the business owner can simply close the operation down and set up another firm.
“In order to create a genuine deterrent, directors of rogue companies should face the threat of a jail term or having their personal assets seized. Only then will such individuals think twice before hiring an illegal worker.”
The Immigration Bill, published today (10th October 2013) by the Home Office, is designed to ensure a more robust response to rogue employers who exploit illegal labour, whilst reducing the administrative burden on compliant businesses.
Unveiling the bill, immigration minister Mark Harper said: "New legislation will increase the penalties for rogue businesses, make it easier to enforce payment, while also making it easier for legitimate businesses to verify individuals’ right to work.”
However, Kelly believes the measures do not go far enough.
He added: “I believe an opportunity to create a genuine deterrent has been missed.
“Measures to make it easier to enforce the payment of fines are a step in the right direction, but it feels like the government is tinkering around the edges rather than bringing about wholesale reform.
“We welcome efforts to simplify right-to-work checks for compliant, legitimate employers.
“It should be noted, however, that no firm deadline seems to have been placed on proposals to reduce the number of documents needed for employers to conduct right-to-work checks. The Bill simply states that this will take place ‘over time.’
“Therefore, right-to-work checks look set to remain a fairly laborious process for employers for some time yet.”
The Immigration Bill is expected to come into force next year.
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