Immigration skills charge for UK employers

Published on: 25/09/2015


The recently published Immigration Bill, coming less than a year after the Immigration Act 2014 took effect, builds on the Conservative Government’s objective to make Britain a more hostile environment for undocumented migrants.

The provisions in the Bill include stricter sanctions for those who do not have the right to be in the UK. The main themes include:

  • new measures cracking down on the exploitation of low-skilled workers, increasing the punishments for employing illegal migrants, and strengthening sanctions for illegal working
  • building on the Immigration Act 2014 to ensure that only people living lawfully in the UK can have access to UK bank accounts, driving licenses and rental accommodation
  • increasing powers to make it easier to remove people who have no right to be in the UK

As mentioned in the Queen’s speech, under the draft Bill the Government will have the power to introduce regulations that impose an “immigration skills charge” on businesses recruiting people from outside the European Economic Area, to reduce the UK’s reliance on such workers. Funds generated by this charge would be used to fund apprenticeships.

There is no detail yet on what the immigration skills charge will be or when it will be imposed but if/when it is introduced this will clearly be another cost for employers to take into account when recruiting people from outside the EEA.

The Bill also introduces a new offence of “illegal working” - illegal workers and their employers can be prosecuted, potentially facing big fines and tough prison sentences, and their wages will be treated as “proceeds of crime”, making them subject to seizure by the police.

The Bill also requires all employees working for public authorities in customer-facing roles to speak “fluent” English.       

Buddy will be reporting on the progress of Bill as it makes its way through Parliament.

Julia Monks

University of Law


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