Daniel Galvin Jr MBE, the esteemed hair maestro to A-listers and royals alike, recently found himself tangled in a £15,000 fine for employing someone without proper work authorisation. Now, how did the hair virtuoso land in this hairy situation? 

This article by Louis MacWilliam, solicitor, and head of immigration at Truth Legal, gives an immigration expert’s view on how the fine came to be, how it could have been even worse, and how businesses can avoid similar hair-raising fines. 

Employers with illegal workers – the list of shame  

Firstly, let’s talk about the list of employers caught employing illegal workers, a ‘Hall of Shame,’ where businesses caught with unauthorised workers are paraded for public scrutiny. Usually, you’d expect to see fast-food joints and car washes in this rogues’ gallery, but lo and behold, Galvin Jr’s name made the cut on the latest quarterly list, leading to his exposure in various outlets today. 

Galvin Jr’s fine – an immigration lawyer’s analysis 

As Galvin Jr received a £15,000 fine, the illegal working incident must have taken place before 13 February 2024, as for an offence after this date it’s £45,000 (from the quarterly report we know in fact that Galvin Jr received the penalty notice between July and September 2023). 

We can assume that he not only employed an individual who did not have the right to work in the UK, but that he also failed to carry out a proper right to work check. Had Galvin Jr carried out a proper right to work check, then he would have been protected by something called a ‘statutory excuse’, which would have shielded him from any fine. More on that later.  

For penalty notices received prior to 13 February 2024, as with Galvin Jr, the starting point for a first-time offender is £15,000. However, you can normally reduce the size of this fine by mitigation; the most common mitigation being if you actively cooperate with the Home Office throughout their investigations, which reduces the fine by £5,000. To get this discount, you don’t have to admit liability; in fact, you can lodge a legal challenge against any proposed fine, and if unsuccessful still benefit from this reduction, provided you remain cooperative throughout. We don’t know whether Galvin Jr was uncooperative, or quite possibly did not understand how to deal with this complicated issue. 

You can get up to two further £5,000 reductions, if you proactively report a worker to the Home Office prior to the business coming on their radar, and for showing you have effective right to work checking procedures in place.  

How the fine could have been worse 

Whilst £15,000 is a considerable fine for any business, at least the penalty notice was issued prior to 2024. As of 13 February 2024, any business will receive a whopping £45,000 penalty for employing an individual without the right to work. Furthermore, if Galvin Jr were to get caught a second time, he could face a £60,000 as a ‘repeat offender’. So, how can Galvin Jr, and any other business in the UK, avoid these hefty fines? 

The importance of a right to work check 

Had Galvin Jr carried out a right to work check on the employee in question, then he would avoid these troubles. Most obviously, by checking the individual’s right to work, it would most likely have flushed out the worker’s lack of appropriate status. 

Furthermore, by carrying out a proper right to work check, Galvin Jr would have been protected by a ‘statutory excuse’, protecting him against civil penalty if the employee turned out in fact not to have a right to work. This could be handy if the employee had presented himself or a document in a fraudulent manner, such that Galvin Jr reasonably believed the individual to have a right to work. With a statutory excuse in place, Galvin Jr could not be fined even if the worker had no right to work. 

If you want to know more about right to work checks, check out our website or even better, get in touch with our specialist immigration team. 

Final thoughts 

With eyewatering fines now in place, and Daniel Galvin Jr MBE’s troubles showing that anyone can be caught by these provisions (even those deemed worthy of British honours), now, more than ever, employers need to ensure they’re carrying out proper right to work checks. Where an employer has not already carried out such checks on employees, it should retrospectively check the status of their existing workers without delay (although you will only get a statutory excuse if you carry out a right to work check prior to any employment commencing).  

If you would like help with right to work checks, or any immigration matter for your business, contact us for a free consultation today.   

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Catherine Reynolds
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