89 Bickersteth RD

London SW17 9SH

0203 490 1221

Client Support


If you are found to have employed a worker illegally, you may be liable for a civil penalty. Each illegal worker will attract a penalty.

What happens if I receive a civil penalty?

The Home Office will send you a notice telling you that your case is being referred to officials who will consider your liability for a civil penalty. If you do not think that you are liable for the civil penalty, you can object to the Home Office or appeal to a court if:

  • You are not liable to pay the penalty (e.g. you are not the worker’s employer);
  • You have a statutory excuse (you undertook the correct document checks); or
  • The level of the penalty is too high (e.g. the Home Office did not take mitigating circumstances into account).

The maximum penalty you can be made to pay is £20,000 per illegal worker (£5,000 if they are Croatian). The amount you will have to pay will depend on whether you have been found to employ illegal workers before, whether you have reported the illegal worker to the Home Office, whether you have co-operated with the Home Office and whether you generally comply with your employer duties to prevent illegal working.

Whether you have to pay a civil penalty, and how much, will also depend on when the employee commenced working with you.

There are options to pay a reduced penalty if you pay quickly, or pay by instalments. If you do not pay the penalty, object or appeal by the due dates, the Home Office will commence court action against you. If the Home Office is successful, you will have a County Court Judgment against you. This may impact upon your credit rating and affect your ability to act as a company director.

It is also a criminal offence to knowingly employ an illegal worker, or employ an illegal worker where you had reasonable cause to believe that they did not have the right to work in the UK. You may face up to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

What else do I need to know about civil penalties?

You can avoid incurring a civil penalty by conducting appropriate right to work checks. If you have carried out suitable document checks, you will have a ‘statutory excuse’ and will not be liable for a civil penalty.

Document checks will not protect you against prosecution if you knew the worker did not have permission to work, or if you could reasonably have known.

The Home Office publishes lists of all civil penalties imposed on companies. These are freely accessible to the public using the Home Office website. The Home Office often also issues press releases to local and national media, naming companies that have employed workers illegally.

If you later apply for a Sponsor Licence with a view to sponsoring foreign workers, any history of employing workers illegally will affect your application.

How our immigration solicitors can help

If you have been issued with a Notification of Liability for a Civil Penalty, our immigration solicitors can advise as to the likelihood of establishing a statutory excuse. We also assist with submitting objections to the Civil Penalty Compliance Team and provide legal representation at civil penalty appeals in the County Court.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to employers as part of a professional and friendly service.


Contact Our Managing Director

As specialist immigration solicitors, we pride in having one of the best team of specialist immigration solicitors  with wealth of knowledge and experience to deal with all types of UK visa and immigration matters. Our top rated immigration solicitors have successfully helped thousands of clients with all types of UK visa and immigration applications, immigration appeals, Administrative Review, Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) and Judicial Review.

Managing Director

Theo Mathias-Nwaulune

Managing Director

Ask a question for free advice

You Deserve The Best Solicitors

 Representing your Interest

Our Practice Areas

Our Clients Satisfaction Ratings

Civil Litigation
Immigration & Nationality
Wills & Probate
Citywide Logo

Let's have a 20 minutes chat

Book a free consultation