The duty of UK Businesses to prevent illegal workers

Can your business afford to give away £8,538.00? That’s the average civil penalty sum made against UK businesses for employing illegal workers in breach of immigration laws.

If the above sum of money could substantially affect the stability of your business, it is important that as an employer employing or seeking to employ migrants, that you ensure that your workers have the right to live and work in the United Kingdom. Migrants’ right to work should be constantly monitored and checked in line with changes in Immigration Rules even after their employment commences as part of the employers’ responsibilities.

What happens if you as an Employer do not comply with the Immigration Rules?

As an employer, you can be fined up to £20,000 per person as a civil penalty for employing any illegal workers without the right immigration status and your organisation’s details may be published by Immigration Enforcement as a warning to other businesses not to employ illegal workers (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/employers-illegal-working-penalties#guidance-and-codes-of-practice).

Even worse, if you knowingly employ an illegal worker then you will commit a criminal offence and may face up to 2 years’ imprisonment and / or an unlimited fine if your case is dealt with at the Crown Court. Illegal workers include: students with expired visas, or students working more hours than they’re allowed to, and people who work on a visitor’s visa – these are just a few examples, but there are many more circumstances that you may not be currently aware of!

The sanctions that are imposed on any employer for hiring a migrant with no immigration status are serious and severe in its repercussions with the potential to damage any organisation’s revenue and reputation. You must therefore as an employer check that a job applicant or a current employee’s allowed to work for you in the UK before you employ them and you have the right sponsorship licence in place before you take on an employee.

Under the current immigration laws, statistics show that approximately 1270 employers across the UK have been subject to civil penalties to date for retaining illegal migrant workers for a total value of £10,843,750. However, this statistic is ever growing with the number of employers penalised for hiring illegal workers expected to increase due to no compliance.

How can Black Antelope Law help your organisation?

We provide clear and concise advice on all aspects of business immigration law in the United Kingdom with results that will allow you to:

  1. Employ and maintain the right of workers for your organisation
  2. Avoid any negative publicity and damage to your organisation’s reputation
  3. Make visa applications and/or applications for an extension of stay and settlement
  4. Undergo audits in the workplace to combat illegal working and any subsequent disciplinary issues
  5. Avoid any criminal and civil sanctions that might otherwise be enforced upon you

Our business immigration service includes keeping you up to date on relevant immigration law updates which may affect your specific organisation. We will provide you with all the relevant materials and our team will always be on hand to advise you accordingly.

Your needs can be discussed in a no-obligation meeting with a simple consultation to assess the status and structure of your organisation and its compliance with the current immigration laws.

High Court Declares Right to Rent Scheme A Breach of Human Rights

On 1 March 2019, the High Court delivered its judgment in  R (Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 452 (Admin) as to the lawfulness of what is commonly referred to as the Right to Rent Scheme introduced by sections 20-37 of the Immigration Act 2014 which deals with access to residential tenancies depending on a tenant’s immigration status.

The Claimant argued that based on its research, the evidence showed that a prospective tenant who was not a British citizen but had indefinite leave to remain in the UK was more likely to receive a negative response or no response to a tenancy application compared to a British citizen. Following a further mystery shopper exercise, a further report was produced which concluded that BME tenants without a passport were more likely to receive a negative response or no response than a BME tenant with a passport and that when white and BME British citizens did not have a passport the BME tenant faced race discrimination (see paras 32-34 for a discussion of the research evidence).

The High Court held that the Right to Rent Scheme was incompatible with Article 8 ECHR (the right to respect for a person’s private and family life) and Article 14 ECHR (the right not to suffer discrimination in the enjoyment of rights under the European Convention on Human Rights) because the evidence of the disadvantage suffered by prospective tenants, i.e. they find it harder rather than impossible to get housing, was on such a scale that there would be some who will have been unable to find accommodation at all or for such a long time that their family life will have been interfered with.

The Court was satisfied that the discrimination that was taking place had a sufficient causal link with the Right to Rent Scheme based on all the evidence put before the Court. It was notable that the Residential Landlords Association submitted evidence to the Court that the Right to Rent Scheme introduced delays in the process of assessing a potential tenant that had caused landlords losses through increased void periods without rent. As a result, the primary driver for landlords was economic: they could avoid the potential civil and court sanctions and delays by renting to British passport holders.

The decision represents the first time that a court (domestic or otherwise) has found that where a state takes a negative action as opposed to a positive action in relation to a Convention right (in this case by making it more difficult for a person with the right to rent to obtain a home for him or herself or their family), it must do so in a non-discriminatory way. This represents an extension of the “modality” cases.

The Court was persuaded to extend the modality doctrine for the following reasons:

  • Race discrimination is regarded by the Convention caselaw as particularly offensive and therefore a low threshold should be set as to whether the case engaged Article 8 ECHR which it must be remembered does not guarantee the right to a home.
  • Although Article 8 ECHR did not give anyone a right to a home, it was the Court’s view that it does give everyone a right to seek to obtain a home for themselves and their family even if they are ultimately unsuccessful and there should be a level playing field for everyone in the housing market regardless of their race and nationality.

Finally, the decision is important because the UK Government had intended to roll out the Right to Rent Scheme in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. At paragraph 131 of its judgment, the High Court held that despite the fact that a decision to roll out the Right to Rent Scheme to the devolved territories had not been made, the clear intention of the Government to do so meant that the Court was satisfied it was appropriate to grant a declaration that there would be a breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty under s.149 Equality Act 2010 if there were no further evaluation of its efficacy and the discriminatory impact.

So where does this leave us now? The decision does not mean that the Government will abolish the Right to Rent Scheme. However, it will need to consider a further evaluation before it can roll out the Right to Rent Scheme to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The reality is that the Government will be forced to pilot any amended scheme in England first and assess that before rolling it out to the devolved territories. In those circumstances, it is unlikely that we will see the introduction of the Right to Rent Scheme in the devolved territories in the immediate future.

Furthermore, landlords and tenants need to be aware that a declaration of incompatibility does not remove the law under section 20-37 of the Immigration Act 2014 and the law will continue to apply until Parliament removes the incompatibility.

Black Antelope Law recognised in 2018 UK Social Mobility Awards

Black Antelope Law is proud to have made the Honour Roll for the 2018 UK Social Mobility Awards for our work in advancing social mobility.

The UK Social Mobility Awards are a unique set of awards that have been specifically established to recognise and encourage action that promotes and increases social mobility within Britain’s companies and institutions and elevate social mobility as a cause equal to the level of other diversity issues.

 

Black Antelope Law becomes the first BSB Entity to be awarded a Certificate of Wellbeing

Black Antelope Law is pleased to announce that we have been awarded the certificate of wellbeing from the Bar Council for our work and approach to mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

In a year in which the firm has placed mental health at the forefront of its CSR strategy, this is another significant step in establishing ourselves as a Mindful Employer.

Here is what the Bar Council had to say about the award:

“Congratulations to BA Law, the first BSB regulated entity to be awarded a certificate of wellbeing, BA Law’s approach is based on advice provided by MIND and is in response to demands from employees, it is good to see a focus on providing support to staff”.

 

Roshni Patel 1988 – 2018

It is with great sadness that we announce that our Roshni Patel (Solicitor and Head of Marketing & Communications) has recently passed away.

For those of us who were fortunate enough to know Roshni, three words come to mind:

  1. Sacrifice
  2. Tenacity
  3. Light-heartedness

Sacrifice

Roshni was someone who, time and again, made great sacrifices to support her family and friends, of which she had many. She took an extended break from law to become a carer at a time when her career was really taking off. At Black Antelope Law we were delighted to offer her path back into the profession when the time came as her talent was immediately obvious.

Roshni was a real favourite with our clients and in and outside of work she was extremely supportive of her colleagues. She took her duties as the Mental Health and Wellbeing Officer very seriously: there was no getting away with skipping breaks or not eating properly on her watch, even if she had to supervise you eating your lunch!

Tenacity

Roshni was an achiever and someone who got things done. She was tenacious and it never surprised us to find that she had managed to secure a new business development opportunity out of thin air. Her resilience against setbacks was her greatest quality.

Light-heartedness

Roshni was someone who really knitted our workplace family together with her cheerfulness and banter. She would regularly send members of the team funny memes and jokes to lighten the mood. She loved all things Disney and was not in any way embarrassed about her summer holiday to Disneyland. Her response to office banter about her trip typified Roshni:

“People who hate Disney:

  • Don’t have a heart
  • Never had a childhood
  • Probably aren’t human to begin with!”

As a founding member of Black Antelope Law, Roshni truly believed in the Black Antelope ethos and leaves a legacy for us to continue. Our thoughts go out to her family at this difficult time.

For those who wish to pay their respects to Roshni and her work, her family has asked that people show their support for Mind, a charity which was very close to her heart and for which she was fundraising. Our annual charity and networking evening to be held on 24 October 2018 will now also be a memorial event and we would love to see you there. For anyone who cannot attend but wishes to show their support, donations to Mind can be made via our Justgiving page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SomeoneSpecial/RoshniPatel16

 

Valentines Day Will

Not sure what to give your loved one this Valentines? Well, why not gift them a Valentines Day Will.

For anyone who registers an interest in having a will drafted by contacting us between 1 February 2018 and 4 pm on 12 February 2018, we are offering a buy one get one half price discount on our usual fee of £400 plus VAT provided they go on to make a purchase by 30 April 2018.

To take advantage of the offer, please provide your name and contact details during the promotion period and you will also automatically be entered into a free prize draw to win a specially designed cake by Bakes by Niki, which will be delivered to you or to a loved one, on Valentines Day.

So don’t delay, contact us today!

London Legal Walk 2018

Black Antelope Law is pleased to announce that we will be taking part in the London Legal Walk 2018 on 21 May 2018.

The 10km walk raises much-needed funds for charities that provide life-changing legal advice and representation to those in need. A full list of the charities who are supported by funds raised from the walk can be found here.

Please help to support our team of walkers by making a donation (no amount is too big or small) to our fundraising page.

We will be sharing updates on the day across our social media channels using the hashtag: #LLW2018

What is the legal status of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency in the EU and UK?

With the increase of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in the current trading market, it is easy for any potential investor to question their legal status, especially in the UK or EU and so it may be important to understand their position in law as we have explored below.

Are Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency legal in the EU?

At the time of writing, the EU has not implemented any legislative measures that define the status of Bitcoin as a currency. They however in the alternative have stated that Value Added Tax or Goods and Services Tax are not applicable to the conversion between traditional (fiat) currency and bitcoin. Value Added Tax, Goods and Services Tax and other relevant tax regimes will still apply to transactions made using bitcoins for goods and services as a result.

In October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that “The exchange of traditional currencies for units of the ‘bitcoin’ virtual currency is exempt from VAT” and that “Member States must exempt, inter alia, transactions relating to ‘currency, bank notes and coins used as legal tender’”, making bitcoin a currency as opposed to being a commodity. It was also held that additional tax shouldn’t be chargeable because Bitcoins or Cryptocurrency should be treated as a means of payment.

The European Central Bank has classified Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency as a convertible decentralised virtual currency. In July 2014, the European Banking Authority had initially advised European banks not to trade in virtual currencies i.e. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency until a statutory regulatory regime was accordingly in place.

In 2016, the European Parliament proposed to set up a taskforce to monitor virtual currencies to combat potential money laundering. This passed by 542 votes to 51, with 11 abstentions, and has been sent to the European Commission for consideration.

Are Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency legal in the UK?

There has been no official statement by the Bank of England regarding its position towards Bitcoin and the UK Government has stated that Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency are unregulated. More information can be found on  https://www.loc.gov/law/help/bitcoin-survey/#uk

It has however been reported that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has classed bitcoins as “single purpose vouchers,” rendering any sales of them liable to a Value Added Tax of 10–20%.

In the alternative, where Bitcoin or Cryptocurrency is exchanged for the Pound Sterling or for other currencies i.e. Euros, US Dollars, then no VAT will be due on the value of the Bitcoins or Cryptocurrency themselves.

It must also be noted that profits and losses on cryptocurrencies are subject to Capital Gains Tax. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/revenue-and-customs-brief-9-2014-bitcoin-and-other-cryptocurrencies)

Simao Paxi-Cato Speaker at The Lawyer Portal Aspire Event 27 January 2018

The Lawyer Portal LogoSimao Paxi-Cato will be one of the guest speakers at The Lawyer Portal’s Aspire event on Saturday 27 January 2018.

The one-day event will offer attendees ranging from 14 years of age to 18, expert insight from lawyers and experienced legal educators on what a career in law really means and how to kickstart a career in the profession.

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We have launched our website!

After months of hard work and tweaking, we’re proud to launch our website. We hope that you like it and feedback is always welcome.

Please take a few moments to look around and if you have time, why not check out our sister site, Black Antelope Coaching? If there are any questions which haven’t been answered, then please feel free to give us a call and we’d be only too happy to help.

Black Antelope Law