Civil penalties for employers
This page explains the penalties for employers who use illegal migrant workers.
We introduced a civil penalty system for employers in February 2008. This is allowed under section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.
If our staff carrying out enforcement and compliance visits find that an employer is using illegal migrant workers, they will issue the employer with a notification of potential liability (NOPL). Our civil penalty compliance team will then consider evidence provided by the visiting officer or team, and will decide whether to issue the employer with a notification of liability (NOL) and a civil penalty of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker.
If we impose an NOL and civil penalty against an employer found to be using illegal migrant workers, the employer must within 28 days:
- pay the civil penalty in full; or
- ask the civil penalty compliance team for permission to pay the civil penalty in monthly instalments; or
- submit an objection to the civil penalty compliance team against the service of the civil penalty; or
- lodge an appeal against the service of the civil penalty to the County Court (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or the Sheriff Court (in Scotland).
We offer a fast payment option to employers who qualify for it. This allows them to pay a reduced amount if they pay within a certain time.
The size of a civil penalty depends on the type of eligibility checks that the employer has made on its workers, the number of times when we have issued a warning or imposed a civil penalty, and the extent to which the employer has cooperated with us. The civil penalty code of practice, which is one of our guidance documents on preventing illegal working, contains more information.
The civil penalty scheme sits alongside the criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant worker (section 21 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006). This offence will be used in more serious cases where rogue employers knowingly and deliberately use illegal migrant workers, often for personal financial gain. It will carry a maximum custodial sentence of two years, and/or an unlimited fine.
If you need to contact the civil penalty compliance team, you can find the contact details on the right side of this page.
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A requirement to pay money that can be imposed for an offence without the need for a court conviction.