Euro Car Parts is facing a potential fine of up to Â£80,000 following arrests of illegal workers by the UK Border Agency.
A total of twenty workers were arrested during simultaneous raids by the UK Border Agency at ECPâ€™s national distribution centre in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and the company headquarters in Wembley, West London on 29th September.
The government authority says it was â€œacting on intelligenceâ€, while ECP says most, but not all, of the implicated workers were not direct employees of the company.
According to the UK Borders Agency, ten arrests took place at each ECP location.
Of the ten arrested at ECPâ€™s Tamworth site, the UK borders agency confirmed that nine had been detained pending the results of the investigation. They also said that the tenth worker has been released on immigration bail while they obtain the documents needed to remove him from the country.
In a statement the agency said: â€œAny business that takes on foreign nationals without permission to work is breaking the law and undermining law-abiding employers.
â€œRogue businesses face heavy fines and possible prosecution. We will continue to crack down on companies that employ illegal workers and fail to carry out proper checks on passports and other identity documents.â€
Although ECP said three Tamworth employees did provide it with false information and documentation and are under continuing investigation, no ECP employees were found to have broken employment regulations at Wembley.
ECP people director Martin Gray says one employee that was arrested has also since been sent a letter of apology.
â€œThe vast majority of workers that have been written about are not employed by Euro Car Parts,â€ said Gray.
â€œThey are agency workers that were on ECP premises, provided by reputable agencies that had given us undertakings that all their staff [had the] right to work in the UK. Collectively the two recruitment companies implicated face fines of Â£50k.
â€œAs we pay a flat rate of pay, there is certainly no incentive for us as an employer not to employ people without the UK right to work status â€“ in fact, when you take into account the negative publicity and potential fines, it makes absolutely no sense at all.â€
â€œAs a company we ensure that we hold all the necessary documentation and carry out monthly checks. We have no reason to employ illegal workers.
The company says that while it will continue to help the borders agency with their investigations, it will also be pursuing the matter internally.
Gray said: â€œOnce these investigations have been completed we will be taking further action as our name and reputation has been tarnished with what we believe is inaccurate and misleading information.â€
The news comes as the government sets out new regulations regarding employing agency workers. The rules, which came into effect at the beginning of October, entitle agency workers equal treatment in comparison to permanent workers.
In essence, the rules mean that agency workers have the same rights as permanent workers when it comes to basic conditions like pay, holidays and performance related bonuses.
The legislation affects all companies who make use of agency workers. The RMI is urging all of its members to get in touch to make sure they fully understand the new rules and are prepared for any changes they might have to make.
The UK borders agency commented that any employers who are unsure of the steps they need to take should contact the agencyâ€™s employerâ€™s helpline on 0300 123 4699. They also noted that anyone wishing to report a company for suspected employment of illegal workers can do so via Crimestoppers.