The Immigration Act 2014
The Immigration Act 2014 finally received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014. Although it has not yet been brought into force it will introduce several significant changes to other areas of law.
The most significant, and debated, part of the Act relates to residential tenancies. The Act will introduce a requirement for residential landlords to ensure their tenants have the right to remain in the UK before they rent property to them. This will affect private landlords and letting agents both of whom will be liable to a fine of up to £3,000 if they are found to have breached the Act.
The Act sets out statutory excuses for landlords and agents however these are limited to situations where they have notified the Home Office of the breach as soon as practicably possible and where they can demonstrate that someone else was liable for the breach.
The Government has undertaken to introduce this part of the Act on a trial basis in a restricted area. However the intention is for the requirement to extend to the whole UK. The location of the initial trial has not been announced so practitioners in this field will want to look out for announcements in that regard.
The Home Office has recently doubled the potential penalty for an employer found guilty of hiring illegal workers to up to £20,000 per employee.
Illegal working is not restricted to employing a person who does not have leave to remain in the UK. It can include hiring someone in breach of the restrictions placed on their visa for example a student hired in excess of 20 hours per week or a Tier 2 migrant hired to work for another company.
Any employer will need to ensure that they perform right to work checks on their employees to avoid potentially fines. The Home Office has issued guidance on performing right to work checks and what an employer is required to do.
First of all an employer must take copies of documents showing a worker's right to work in the UK. They must then ensure that these copies are retained and that they make a diary note to obtain updated evidence when the permission to work is due to expire. The guidance also highlights that these checks should be carried out in relation to every employee to avoid discriminating against foreign workers.
Employers should also be aware that in cases where it is not immediately apparent if the worker has the right to work there is a free employer's checking service which can provide confirmation of the position.
If you would like more information about the Immigration Act 2014, preventing illegal working or any area of immigration law please contact us on the details below.