Supermarket giant Tesco has been fined £115,000 for employing foreign students at one of its warehouses, in breach of their student visas that only permit them to work up to 20 hours per week.
Immigration officials entered a warehouse in Croydon, South London, which is operated as part of the Tesco.com online business.
They arrested 30 students for breaches of their visa terms that restrict their working hours whilst studying in the UK.
After investigations were conducted, Tesco was found in breach on 23 of the student contracts and has been fined £115,000. Of the 23 students, 20 have subsequently been deported for working between 50 and 70 hours per week.
Tesco is a major UK employer, with 2,500 stores that employ more than 300,000 staff. It is thought Tesco avoided more serious sanctions because the UK Border Force decided a collaborative approach was better.
"They didn't revoke the licence because they wanted to work with Tesco to solve the problem. They have many licences for different parts of the business so UK Border Force felt this wouldn't make a difference," a source told The Daily Telegraph.
All students have the right to work in the UK on a part-time basis, with student visas restricting their hours to less than 20 per week. It is thought that many students work longer hours than this, something that the Border Agency is looking to stamp out.
It has since emerged that UK Border Agency had informed Tesco of its intention to raid the warehouse and had asked the supermarket not to intervene so that it could catch the students out and impose the maximum penalty of deportation upon them.
"This fine shows that we will not hesitate to take action against employers that break the rules," said a UK Border Agency spokesman.
Tesco has said it does not condone illegal working, despite the fact that it offered the staff extra hours whilst working on a student visa.
Tesco fined £115,000 for employing illegal foreign workers (The Telegraph)