Monday, 3 November 2014

Should your employees really be here?

Employers who fail to check whether temporary staff have a legal right to work in Britain could face fines of up to £20,000.

And employment law expert John Mehtam, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said turning a blind eye to the situation was no solution.

Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 requires every employer to prevent illegal working in the UK.

“This means it’s an employer’s responsibility to check that any potential staff have permission to work here, and the employer must also retain the documentation to prove it. If you do recruit someone or continue to employ someone who fails to provide proof that they are entitled to work here, you could face a civil penalty of up to £20,000.”

John said the documentation required was split into two lists – list A and list B. “If your potential employee has no restrictions on their right to work in the UK, they should be able to easily produce a document or a combination of documents from list A.

“But if there are restrictions – maybe they’ve been given a time limit to enter or remain – they won’t have the documents from the first list, so they’ll need to resort to a document or specified combination of information from the second list as set out by the Home Office.”

John said if an employer used an agency to hire temporary workers, the situation was slightly different. “As long as the agency worker remains employed by the agency throughout their contract, it’s the agency’s legal responsibility to check their work status. But don’t just assume that the agency will have done the checks.

“Always ask for written confirmation that the agency has investigated the employee’s status before they took them on. And if they are unable or unwilling to give that reassurance, you should start delving deeper as this could be a cause for worry.”

If an employer uses an agency to recruit an employee who will be working directly for their company, it’s once again the employer’s job to carry out all the right checks.

“Ask for the relevant documents in the offer of appointment letter you send to the employee, stressing that the offer is purely conditional on them having the right to work in the UK.

“Failing to protect your company when it comes to taking on temporary workers is a risk you can’t afford, so it’s vital you make sure all the paperwork is in order before they set foot in the workplace.”