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BRUSSELS, Belgium Employers in the European Union could face tough sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants under a directive proposed by the European Commission.
The proposal calls for employers to carry out pre-recruitment checks on third-country nationals to ensure they are authorized to work. Employers found to have hired illegal immigrants without checking their authorization would be subject to penalties that include fines or other measures such as a ban from accepting public contracts for up to five years or loss of E.U. subsidies.
Criminal penalties could be brought against employers with three infringements in two years, under the proposed directive. Businesses that hire illegal workers for "particularly exploitative working conditions" and those that know workers are victims of human trafficking would also be subject to criminal charges, the commission said in a statement.
Member states also would be required to set up complaint mechanisms that third-party nationals could use to lodge complaints regarding their working conditions.