Employers are being urged to prepare themselves for new laws on migrant workers that are due to come into force later this year.

From November, any companies wishing to recruit workers from outside the European Union will have to apply for a licence from the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

The law firm Dundas & Wilson insists employers should make sure they do so in plenty of time in order to comply with the law when it is introduced.

Elaine McIlroy, an associate in employment law at the firm, said the UKBA is taking a tough stance on illegal migrant working and will be enforcing the law rigorously.

Companies should therefore avoid "embarrassment" by signing up to the body’s register as soon as possible, she added.

The terms of the licences will also be strict, Ms McIlroy said, so employers will need to implement "robust" human resources processes to ensure that they can comply.

The UKBA states that as of February this year, employers found to be knowingly employing illegal migrant workers will face an unlimited fine and/or a maximum two-year prison sentence.