Mark Harper, Immigration Minster’s resignation


Coalition immigration minister, Mark Harper has resigned his post after failing to comprehend his own immigration laws.

Immigration ServicesMr Harper offered his resignation on 8th February 2014 after double checking his cleaner’s paperwork and realising she did not have permission to work in the UK.

Mr Harper claims his cleaner was self-employed. Whether that means he escapes penalty is however, questionable.

In July 2013 Mr Harper robustly supported the “Go Home or Face Arrest” vans which had a short and controversial pilot period in London.

Just like Baroness Scotland in 2009, Mr Harper omitted to keep a copy of his employees immigration status document proving her right to work in UK. Baroness Scotland who is a member of the House of Lords was successfully prosecuted and fined £5,000 for employing someone who did not have the appropriate immigration status. It remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mr Harper.

By failing to retain proof, Mr Harper may be liable to a fine of up to £10,000. A fine which the coalition government are now suggesting be increased to £20,000 per employee illegally employed in the UK in a bill currently before parliament, due to come into effect April 2014.

Employer Duties

At present, employers hold statutory duties when employing foreign migrants. Those duties include checking that the employee has a right to work in the UK and retaining copies of documents confirming that right to work. In order to avoid penalty from the Home Office, employers must have an understanding of the complexity of immigration law.

In a bid to widen the net, the coalition government intend to extend a similar duty to Landlords providing housing to overseas nationals and medical professionals treating patients from outside of the EU.

If immigration ministers and their colleagues are evidently unable to understand and comply with the intricacies of their own law, is it fair to expect members of the public and non immigration professionals to share the burden of policing immigration control to the UK with the Home Office?

At Simpson Millar LLP we see exactly how difficult it can be for employers to understand the complexity of immigration law when employing overseas nationals.

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