Right to Work and Rent Fines for Employers and Landlords Increase on 13 February 2024 banner


Right to Work and Rent Fines for Employers and Landlords Increase on 13 February 2024

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Fines and Civil Penalty Notices massively increase on 13 February 2024 if you employ a worker who does not have the right to work or if you rent out a property to a tenant who does not have the right to rent.

In this article, our Immigration Solicitors and Landlord and Tenant Solicitors look at the fine increases and what they may mean for you.

UK Online and London-Based Solicitors 

For immigration or landlord and tenant advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Why increase fines for employers and landlords?

Non-legal migration and ‘’stopping the boats’’ are a hot political topic. Being seen to act in deterring non-legal migration may be the reason for the tripling of fines for employers and landlords who fail to comply with the legislation on checking people's right to work and right to rent.

Immigration Solicitors say that the increase in fines may in part be a reaction to the net migration figures. The Office for National Statistics net UK migration figure for the 12 months to June 2023 was 672,000 people. The revised figure for 2022 was 745,000 people. What these ONS headline statistics don’t show is that the vast majority of people who make up the net migration statistics for 2022 and 2023 arrived in the UK legally on Work Visas, Family Visas or Business Visas.

Checking the right to work is not as simple as whether someone has the right to be in the UK as they may be validly in the UK but only have a limited right to work. For example:

  • An international student on a Student Visa who can only work on a part-time basis and is subject to visa conditions
  • A Skilled Worker Visa holder who can only take up employment with a sponsoring employer with a sponsor licence and where they have assigned a certificate of sponsorship to the worker
  • A Health and Care Worker Visa holder who is limited to working for a sponsoring employer

Fine increases for employers

Fines for employers who employ a person who does not have the right to work, where the employer cannot claim the ‘statutory excuse’ of having conducted a right-to-work check, are tripling. In addition, the Home Office is increasing the number of compliance visits it undertakes to sponsor licence holders.

Before 13 February 2024, the maximum civil penalty fine for employing an illegal worker was £20,000. On 13 February it increases to £45,000 per worker for a first offence and £60,000 per worker for a second or subsequent offence.

On the same date, the government is introducing a new code of practice on preventing illegal working. If employers follow it they should have a statutory excuse and avoid a Civil Penalty Notice and fine.

Unless the employment of the illegal worker started and ended before 13 February 2024, an employer will face the higher penalties unless the employer had completed a right-to-work check in accordance with the relevant guidance at the time the check was completed and therefore has a statutory excuse.

However, the statutory excuse will not protect an employer if there is also evidence the employer knew or should have known they were employing an employee who did not have the right to work in the UK.

Immigration Solicitors and Employment Lawyers emphasise that all UK employers must invest their time in getting the conduct and record keeping of their right-to-work checks correct.

If your business holds a sponsor licence you may not only face a massive fine but also the revocation of your sponsor licence and the imposition of a cooling-off period to stop you from applying for another sponsor licence for up to 5 years.

At a time when many UK businesses and sponsor licence holders are looking at ways to trim costs and overhead by cutting back on HR training and systems, the use of professional sponsor licence management services may be the most cost-effective way to help with compliance.

Action for employers and sponsor licence holders

Employment Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers  recommend that all UK business owners:

  1. Conduct a review of their current right-to-work check practices including the systems in place to carry out repeat checks on those with limited leave to remain and company record-keeping
  2. Keep up to date with changes
  3. Draw up a right-to-work check policy so staff understand why right-to-work checks (and repeat checks) may be necessary
  4. Ensure there is regular training of the staff engaged in right-to-work checks and proper onboarding of new HR staff or that checks are outsourced
  5. Carry out regular audits to check junior staff are complying with the correct systems
  6. Talk to Immigration Solicitors in cases where the right-to-work check is not clear-cut or if you identify issues with historical right-to-work checks
  7. If you are approached about right-to-work check breaches take immediate legal advice and cooperate with any investigation

Fine increases for landlords

Landlords who rent property without carrying out right-to-rent checks are facing similar fine increases.

For landlords, the fines will increase from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier for a first breach. The new figures are up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier.

Second or repeat breaches will incur a fine of up to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier, an increase from £500 and £3,000.

Landlord and Tenant Solicitors understand these fines will be a massive worry, especially for non-professional accidental landlords who may not use a professional letting agent to carry out the right-to-rent checks on their behalf and to overseas tenants concerned that landlords will be more reluctant to rent property to those whose right to rent checks might be more complicated.

How OTS Solicitors can help

At OTS Solicitors we can help you with all your business immigration, employment law, individual immigration, and landlord and tenant legal needs.

UK Online and London-Based Solicitors 

For immigration or landlord and tenant advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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