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06th August 2015

Illegal working in the UK: Have you got an excuse?

Be vigilant to avoid employing illegal workers!

We’ve seen recent events on the news of the migrant crisis in Calais, with desperate attempts are being made by migrants who are trying to reach the UK.

Should the migrants be successful in their attempts to cross the border, their next challenge could be to find work.  So how do you check your employees’ are eligible to work in the UK?

Cheap labour may be a temptation for some employers, paying less than the minimum wage, no paid holiday plus the possibility of breaking Health & Safety regulations.  My advice for this is to check that your employees’ are eligible to work in the UK. If you don’t you could be at risk of facing a fine of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker or even face criminal prosecution.

As an employer, it’s your duty to prevent illegal working in the UK by ensuring that your employees are eligible to work here. The illegal working provisions of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (‘the Act’) came into force on 29 February 2008.  Some employers believe that obtaining copies of an employee’s driving licence proves eligibility.  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.  So what should you do?

Before you make an offer of employment to a potential new member of staff, you should undertake the following tests:

  • Follow the ‘Eligibility to work in the UK Checklist’ created by the Home Office.  This guidance clearly explains the two lists of documents that can be used to provide your employees with a legal excuse.
  • Ensure any documents that you obtain are the originals and these have been checked face-to-face, take copies of the documents and then file the copies in that employee’s personnel file.
  • Ask all candidates to bring their proof of eligibility to work in the UK to their interview. You can then check the documents and, depending on the area that you are based, you may see a significant drop in candidates attending to interview.
  • Once you have correctly completed the document checks, you will then be provided with a legal excuse (known as a statutory excuse).

There really is no explanation why you shouldn't hold this information for your new employees.  If you are struggling to understand the checklists, then please don’t hesitate to contact Employer Solutions.

Anita Manfredi of Employer Solutions – QCS Expert HR Contributor

Topics: Human Resources

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