IMPACT – HIGH
What is the change? As the phased rollout of the Immigration Act 2016 continues, labor market enforcement provisions will take effect on Nov. 25 and Right to Rent provisions on Dec. 1.
What does the change mean? The definition of illegal hiring has been broadened, making it easier for U.K. employers to be found in violation of hiring illegal workers and be subject to higher criminal and commercial penalties, including closure of their business. The U.K. may become a more hostile environment for migrants generally, with increased administrative hurdles when seeking to rent property, open bank accounts or secure driving licenses.
Below are some of the key provisions that relate to illegal working and restricting undocumented workers’ access to services:
Right to Rent and registration checks
The Immigration Act restricts illegal migrants’ access to services, including the ability to rent a residential property. The “Right to Rent” regime, which is detailed here, requires landlords to obtain proof of a tenant’s immigration status before the tenancy commences, similar to employers’ obligations to conduct Right to Work checks. The rules impact the timing of an assignee’s ability to secure housing depending on the willingness of landlords to arrange accommodation prior to visa approval or biometric residence permit collection (which can take some weeks after arrival in the U.K.).
The Act also introduces a number of additional checks when migrants seek other services such as opening a bank account or obtaining a driver license. Assignees should be aware of these new obligations, and in most cases will need to wait until the biometric residence permit is available (two to four weeks) before applying for such services. Employers should be prepared to confirm an assignee’s status if requested by a bank, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, or the assignee.
Other sections of the Act deal with enforcement powers, detention and bail and appeals rules, border security, fees and welfare of children, with lesser impact on employers, but which nonetheless demonstrate a punitive migration regime in which global employers and employees must operate.
BAL Analysis: U.K. companies should be aware of the increased enforcement environment against illegal working and violations of labor market laws. Corporate employers should also be aware of how this more hostile approach will impact their employees, albeit indirectly, as it increases the administrative burden on assignees moving to the U.K. and on recruiters and HR personnel responsible for ensuring that right-to-work documentation is fully in place. The stricter enforcement measures also directly increase the costs a business must bear in order to employ migrant workers. BAL can assist employers in reviewing their policies and conducting compliance audits.
This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact email@example.com.
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