Illegal working: target employers, not migrants

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The prime minister’s plans to seize the wages of illegal workers risks targeting the very people the government should be protecting.

David Cameron is expected to announce today his intention to treat migrants’ pay packets as proceeds of crime, and grant police the power of seizure. The prime minister will claim it is too easy for illegal workers to exploit loopholes, and vow to make the practice a criminal offence.

Responding to the news, our managing director, Derek Kelly, argued that the government was “going after the wrong people” by targeting migrants instead of the companies that employ them.

Derek said: “These new measures will do nothing to deter the rogue employers that exploit vulnerable workers. Depriving illegal workers of their wages feels like a gimmick.

“I believe directors of companies that hire illegal migrants should face the threat of a jail term or having their personal assets seized. Only then will a genuine deterrent have been created.”

Derek also questioned the practicality of the scheme, claiming it is unlikely that the police will be able to track and seize wages. He said the majority of these pages would be made on a cash-in-hand basis with no audit trail.

The news comes after our recent Freedom of Information Act request found that British companies found to be employing illegal migrants were fined more than £24.6 million last year – a 75% increase on the £14.1 million recouped in 2013. The number of civil penalties also rose from 1,822 to 2,262.

Have your say

What do you think of the news? Is the government targeting the wrong people? How would you tackle the problem of illegal workers? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.