17 July 2009

Dorset businesses fined for employing workers without UK visa

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Two Bournemouth businesses have been fined a total of more than £40,000 for employing workers do did not have valid UK visas or work permits.

Jee Foo Chinese takeaway has been fined £12,500 for employing three illegal staff, while Taj Mahal Indian restaurant must pay £30,000 after it employed six illegal workers who did not have a UK visa or work permit.

The Taj Mahal Indian restaurant fine is the largest single fine handed out to a business in Dorset since civil penalties for employers were introduced by the UK Government last year.

Officers from the UK Border Agency visited both businesses late last year after receiving intelligence about potential illegal workers.

On 23 October 2008, a team from the UK Border Agency Poole office went to Taj Mahal in Poole Road.

The immigration status of the staff was checked, and six Bangladeshi men - aged 25, 28, 28, 28, 30 and 68 - were found to be without a UK visa or work permit and therefore having no legal right to work in the United Kingdom, despite being employed in the kitchen and as waiters.

Immigration officers issued Taj Mahal with an on-the-spot notice, warning the employers that they might receive a large fine unless they could provide proof that they had carried out the necessary document checks (such as asking for passports or work permits) before giving the men jobs.

No evidence was provided, and the employers have now been given a £30,000 civil penalty fine.

A week later, on 1 November 2008, the Agency visited Jee Foo Chinese takeaway on Charminster Road.

Following checks on staff, three Chinese nationals - a 31-year-old woman and two men aged 30 and 35 - were found to be without a UK visa or work permit and therefore having no legal right to work in the United Kingdom.

Again, the employers were issued with a notice warning that they would be fined unless they could prove that the legally required document checks had been carried out. They were unable to do so, and have now been handed a £12,500 fine for employing illegal workers.

The civil penalty system was introduced by the Government last year and provides a swift and effective means of tackling employers who make inadequate checks on their workers from outside Europe.

A penalty of up to £10,000 can be handed out for each illegal worker found at a business.

The new measures also introduced a new criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant worker.

This will apply in the more serious cases where rogue employers knowingly and deliberately use illegal migrant workers, often for personal financial gain. It will carry a maximum two-year custodial sentence and/or an unlimited fine.


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