Appealing a Civil Penalty for Illegal Employment

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A civil penalty for illegal employment under the UK Immigration Act (Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006) can be appealed.

Under the Home Office regime for the Prevention of Illegal Working, UK employers are under a duty to check the right to work status of all of their employees.

Businesses that breach their immigration duties face fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and, in some cases, even imprisonment. A civil penalty for illegal employment can however be appealed.

Challenging a civil penalty notice for illegal working

If you are served a civil penalty UKBA (now ‘UK Visas and Immigration’) notice for illegal employment, you should give serious consideration to making an appeal, either to lessen the fine or to challenge it altogether.

Employers do need to act quickly and decisively, due to the time limitations and strict protocols of the appeal process.

To challenge the Home Office decision, the first stage is to make a written submission under one of three heads of appeal:

  • Your business is not liable because you did not employ an illegal worker;
  • Your business did perform the required documentation checks on the illegal employee and therefore has a statutory excuse; or
  • The penalty is too high because mitigating factors were not properly taken into account.

The submission requires thorough preparation, including detailed supporting documentation and evidence.

It is also common as part of the appeal process to receive an inspection visit from the Home Office. Effective preparation will help ensure cooperation and provide necessary visibility and access to requested documentation during the visit, which counts in your favour.

If the decision remains unfavourable, there is further recourse to appeal to the County Court, for a full hearing.

The most effective approach to challenge a civil penalty for illegal employment is to have a strategy in place from the outset of the appeal. By following the civil penalty appeals process accurately while conveying the case for challenge in the strongest possible light, you can maximise your chances of achieving a favourable outcome.

DavidsonMorris is a specialist firm of Immigration Solicitors based in London and Aberdeen.