Local authorities are to become responsible for ensuring Taxi and Private Hire Drivers are working in the UK legally, under new measures laid out in the Immigration Bill.
Under the new rules, all Drivers and Operators will be required to prove they have right to remain in the UK prior to being granted a licence. The Licensing Authority will be unable to issue a licence for any longer than the length of time the driver has remaining on their VISA.
The aim of the bill is to deter people from attempting to work in the UK illegally and have stricter punishments for businesses that recruit these individuals. It is estimated that there are roughly 600,000 people currently residing in the UK illegally and with many Taxi & Private Hire Drivers being self-employed, they are not subject to the immigration checks carried out by employers. Because of this, the government feels there is room for illegal workers to exploit this system.
It is currently the responsibility of the licensing authority to ensure each driver and operator is a “fit and proper person”, which includes checking the applicant’s medical and criminal record history, as well as running checks for any driving convictions.
Although many authorities currently run right to work checks, it is not currently required that they confirm the applicant is working in the UK legally. Licensing authorities will also be given the power to revoke driver and operator licences on the basis of immigrations offences and penalties.
The bill includes a range of new laws, making it clear that the Home Office can seize and confiscate illegal workers’ earnings as well as close businesses that continue to flout the law. The bill also includes powers of prosecution for businesses who deliberately employ illegal workers.
It makes sense for licensing authorities to take responsibility for this measure, particularly due to the high percentage of drivers and operators that are self-employed. It is local authority’s responsibility to regulate the taxi industry and take the place of the employer when ensuring drivers are adhering to statutory regulations.
The purpose of licensing authorities is to safeguard society by ensuring that drivers and operators are suitable to be engaging with the public. It is therefore their responsibility to ensure drivers are medically fit, are not a danger to the wellbeing of their customers and are legally able to work in the UK.
The amendments regarding the Taxi and Private Hire Licensing were laid out on Thursday 5th November and will now be considered by parliament, however it seems highly likely that these proposed changes will be brought in to force sooner rather than later.
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For more information on these proposed changes, please don't hesitate to contact one of our advisors on 01254 355688