Businesses warned over using illegal migrant workers

Businesses in Northern Ireland were fined a total of £85,000 in the third quarter of last year for employing workers who were in the UK illegally
Gary McDonald Business Editor

BUSINESSES in Northern Ireland which employed illegal workers paid total fines of £85,000 in the third quarter of last, according to Government figures.

Two companies - one in Coleraine and the other in Newtownards - each paid £30,000, the data shows.

It comes as a study by disclosure and barring service provider uCheck, which found that UK businesses had to fork out a £4 million to the Home Office in fines between July and September 2017 for employing illegal immigrants.

It surveyed 2,800 business owners to get their honest opinion on their attitude toward illegal workers.

The study found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, those in the charity sector were the most compassionate toward illegal workers, though only just over half (52.4 per cent) felt empathy for those trying to earn a living illegally.

The legal industry also took a similar stance, with 47.4 per cent of those working in the industry feeling empathetic toward illegal workers.

On the flip side, only 18.5 per cent of those in the pharmaceutical industry revealed that they feel empathy toward illegal workers. This negative view on illegal worker was seconded by the retail industry, with only 19.9 per cent stating they feel compassionate toward those illicitly trying to find work in the UK.

George Griffiths, managing director of uCheck, said: "Our survey results emphasise just how important it is for businesses across the UK to ensure all new hires are legal, which is why we always advise businesses to run Right to Work checks.

"Failure to do this means you could end up paying the price.

"If you're found guilty of hiring someone who you knew or had 'reasonable cause to believe' did not have the right to work in the UK, you can be sent to jail for five years and pay an unlimited fine."

Mike Golden, from Immigration Enforcement in Northern Ireland, said: "Those who use and exploit illegal workers face severe financial penalties.

"We are happy to work with businesses to ensure the right pre-employment checks are carried out, but those intent on operating outside the law will be found and will be punished.”

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