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Home > News > Byron Burger – Immigration law leaves nasty aftertaste

Byron Burger – Immigration law leaves nasty aftertaste

11 August 2016 | Nick Jones

Byron Burger hit the news recently after it came to light they were employing illegal workers. The story is a useful reminder that employers must ensure they are fully compliant with immigration and asylum law.

The legal position

It is unlawful to employ an individual who is not authorised to work in the UK; ignorance is not an excuse. If you are found to have employed an individual who is not eligible to work in the UK you could face:

  • A civil fine of up to £20,000 for each employee; or
  • Criminal liability with a custodial sentence of up to five years, an unlimited fine, or both if you knowingly employ an individual who does not have the right to work in the UK.

Avoiding the £20,000 fine

An employer can avoid the civil penalty if they can prove they carried out pre-employment “right to work” checks to prevent illegal working. It is vital that these checks are carried out before the employee starts work. The checks must establish that the prospective employee has the right to live and work in the UK and the government has prescribed a 3 step process as follows:

  • Inspect original versions of one or more of the right to work documents from the Home Office prescribed list. Seeing a photocopy or a scan is not sufficient;
  • Check the validity of the documents in the presence of the holder; and
  • Take a copy the documents and keep a record of the date you checked them

Despite Byron Burger having carried out the correct ‘right to work’ checks on staff members, the documentation turned out to be false or counterfeit.

Practical steps

It is therefore vital to ensure the documents are genuine, original and unchanged, and belong to the person who has given them to you. Ensure the dates for the applicant’s right to work in the UK have not expired. Check the photos are of the applicant and ensure that details are consistent, e.g. date of birth and if there are any discrepancies between documents, ensure these can be clarified with further evidence.

We have advised clients who have been fined to employing illegal workers; an expensive mistake which could have been avoided by ensuring a proper pre-employment process was followed.

For more information…

If you would like further advice concerning immigration or employment law contact the  team on 0117 906 9400 or email

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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