I have recently seen a rise in enforcement action regarding non-compliance with immigration laws, and particularly in respect of reviews being issued by the Home Office immigration department as well as the police. It is stating the obvious that everybody you employ must have a right to work in the UK.
Immigration and illegal immigration have always been hot political potatoes but it has come to the fore particularly in the past couple of years with regard to Brexit. And, as is often the case, where the politics gets lively, there tends to follow some form of legislation.
The Licensing Act has not been immune from these developments, particularly in respect of the Immigration Act 2016, and it would be perilous in the extreme to treat immigration rules lightly. Very early on in the statutory guidance, the Government explains that the prevention of crime includes the prevention of immigration crime, including the prevention of illegal working in licensed premises.
Licensing authorities are required to work with Home Office immigration enforcement, as well as the police and, where appropriate, licence conditions for the prevention of illegal working in licensed premises can be imposed. For example, requiring a premises licence holder to undertake right-to-work checks on all staff employed at the premises or requiring that a copy of any document check as part of a right-to-work check is retained at the licensed premises.
But illegal working issues go much deeper than that. Firstly, if you are an individual and hold either a personal licence or a premises licence and you either have no right to work in the UK or that right to work expires for some reason then your personal licence or premises licence will lapse immediately (much in t:he same way as a premises licence would lapse for a company if it became insolvent).
Secondly, the statutory guidance makes it clear that there are certain criminal activities that may arise in connection with licensed premises, which should be treated particularly seriously. Examples from the guidance include using the premises for: the sale and distribution of controlled drugs; money laundering from drugs; illegal purchase of alcohol by minors; prostitution and pornography; groups of paedophiles to groom children, and as a base for the organisation of criminal activity, particularly by gangs.
In that same rogues’ gallery is the use of the premises “for employing a person who is disqualified from work by reason of their immigration status in the UK”.
The guidance then states quite clearly that “where reviews arise and the licensing authority determines that the crime prevention objective is being undermined… it is expected that revocation of the licence – even in the first instance – should be seriously considered”.
There are simple options to avoid such catastrophes, including using the Government’s ‘prove your right to work’ and ‘check your right to work’ online checking service, which can be found at the gov.uk website.
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