Five male illegal workers were detained by the UK Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers in Blackpool, England, following an operation at two restaurants in the area. Among the five were two Sri Lankan men aged 21 and 22 who had both overstayed their visas and were working illegally, the British High Commission in Colombo said today.
All the men are currently detained pending their removal from the UK. Both businesses will be served with a civil penalty notice for employing the illegal workers. If the employer is unable to provide evidence that legally-required pre-employment checks were carried out, a fine of up to £10,000 per worker will be imposed.
“Illegal working fuels illegal immigration to the UK and that is why we are carrying out operations like these. If you are a business you must carry out the correct checks on your staff or you could end up with a heavy fine. We are happy to work with businesses to let them know what checks need to be made on staff, but those who break the law should know that they will face heavy fines,” Colin Berrington, from the Home Office Immigration Enforcement team, said.
Meanwhile, measures to toughen civil penalties against rogue businesses employing illegal migrants, while cutting red tape for legitimate employers, were unveiled by the Government earlier last week. These proposals are part of the government’s plans to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to live and work in the UK, and to take tougher action against the rogue employers who exploit them. It is also intended to ensure that the country’s immigration policy is built into the benefits system, health system, housing system and the provision of services across government.
Proposals being considered to toughen civil penalties for businesses employing illegal migrants include an increase in the maximum penalty to £20,000 (approx. 3.9 million Sri Lankan rupees) per illegal worker, targeted at those employers who repeatedly break the rules.
The plans will form part of the Immigration Bill, being introduced later this year, which will tighten immigration law, strengthen the UK’s enforcement powers and clamp down on those from overseas who try to abuse the UK’s public services.
Earlier this month, three male illegal workers from Sri Lanka were arrested following a raid on a garage in Sittingbourne, Kent. The men were transferred to immigration detention pending their removal from the UK.