Civil Penalty

As an employer, you have a legal duty to ensure your employees have the right to work in the UK. If you’ve received a civil penalty for employing illegal workers, we can help you decide on the best course of action.

When employing migrant workers, you must complete thorough Right to Work document checks to ensure your employees are eligible to work in the UK. If the Home Office finds that you have been employing illegal workers, they can impose civil penalties resulting in fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker. As well as being subject to a substantial fine, employers in receipt of civil penalties may face criminal prosecution, and the company’s reputation can be drastically impacted.

I have received a civil penalty – what should I do?

Whether you decide to object the penalty, pay the fine in full, or pay in instalments, you need to respond to the Home Office within 28 days. Our immigration lawyers will take all aspects of your situation into account and will advise on the best course of action for your situation. This may be to:

  • Object to the fine: You can object a civil penalty via the Objection Form provided along with your notice. You may have grounds to object if any of the following applies to your case:
    • You are not liable to pay the penalty (usually meaning you are not the employer of the worker(s) in question)
    • The level of the penalty is too high, for instance if the Home Office did not take mitigating circumstances (e.g. first breach in three years, or evidence of active cooperation) into account when calculating the penalty amount.
    • You have a statutory excuse (i.e. you carried out all required Right to Work checks)
  • Pay the fine in full: If you pay your fine in full within 21 days of it being due, the Home Office will reduce the amount by 30%. Your civil penalty notice will include the final payment deadline and the discounted penalty amount to be paid.
  • Pay the fine in instalments: If you are unable to pay your penalty in one lump sum, you may submit a request for a payment plan. If agreed by the Home Office, your fine will be payable in instalments taken via Direct Debit over an agreed period of time, usually up to 24 months.

Speak to our team

If you’ve received an information request or civil penalty from the Home Office, contact us today for personalised advice from expert immigration lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I avoid incurring a civil penalty?

Always conduct appropriate Right to Work document checks to give you a ‘statutory excuse’ and avoid liability for civil penalties.

What happens if I object a civil penalty?

You should receive a response to your objection within 28 days of the Home Office receiving your objection form. The response will include one of the following outcomes:

  • A Warning Notice (meaning your objection has been accepted and the penalty will not be taken into account in case for any future breaches);
  • A new Civil Penalty Notice (where the penalty is increased); or
  • An Objection Outcome Notice (where the penalty is either maintained, reduced, or cancelled)

Can I appeal if I disagree with the outcome of my objection?

Yes, you can appeal to the County Court within 28 days of receiving an Objection Outcome Notice. However, civil penalty appeals are often complex and time-consuming, so we recommend seeking professional legal advice on the merits of an appeal before proceeding.

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