If you have recently received a Home Office Civil Penalty Notice, you are not alone. Increased pressure by government, and towards government, to eliminate illegal working has led to a significant increase in the issuance of civil penalties. UKVI has responded to pressure by increasing the amount of audits and inspection visits to companies in their quest for identifying and sentencing those who employ illegal workers. Any workers outside the European Economic Area (EEA) working in the UK without formal permission are considered illegal workers.
A civil penalty can mark the end of a business. These penalties result in a negative record, fine up to £20,000 per illegal worker, criminal prosecution and the loss of right to employ migrant workers.
This damage will have an extended effect on business connections, the loss of ability to conduct transactions and maintain contracts, and the loss of current skilled foreign workers along with an inability to further employ non-EU skilled foreign workers. Many businesses are already finding the current economy a challenge, and these implications lead to businesses shutting their doors for good.
Fortunately, receiving a civil penalty does not have to be a finality. There are some options available for businesses if they take immediate action.
You have the option to appeal a civil penalty notice. If your civil penalty is for the employment of illegal workers, you have a time frame of 28 days when you can either appeal the penalty, or pay the fine in its entirety. There is no flexibility with this window of time, so you must be quick and calculated in your response.
It’s important to note that if an appeal leads to the revelation of more damaging information against your company, the penalties may increase. It’s vital to get expert advice before proceeding and ensure that your appeal position is strong.
The first point of action is to lodge a written objection. If this written objection is unsuccessful you can request a hearing to present your appeal.