Thursday, 1 December 2016

Do your staff have the right to work here?

A Telford solicitor has welcomed a tribunal ruling that backed an employer’s decision to sack a worker who could not prove he had the right to work in the UK.

John Mehtam leads the employment law team at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Euston Way, and he said the worker’s status had been uncovered when the employer ran a series of checks.

“The employee was Jamaican and the tribunal ruled that neither his passport or his birth certificate was sufficient evidence that he was legally entitled to work in the UK.

“There was no dispute about his entitlement to live here, it was purely a question of whether he had the right to work in this country. And the employer was absolutely right to take the decision to sack him, because if they were unable to obtain proof of his working status, they could have been fined up to £20,000 themselves and faced criminal action too.”

Mr Mehtam said the employee had been born in Jamaica and had lived in the UK since childhood, but his Jamaican passport had expired and he had no other evidence to prove he had the right to work here.

“The employer lent the worker the money to cover the cost of obtaining a valid Jamaican passport and the cost of an endorsement in the document confirming his employment status. But the worker failed to apply for the endorsement and the Home Office said the passport alone was not enough evidence – so after he failed to turn up to meetings arranged to discuss the situation, the employer dismissed him.

“He claimed he had been unfairly dismissed, but while the tribunal expressed its sympathy for him, it ruled that the employer was right to demand evidence of his status and that they had no option but to sack him.

“This ruling is a clear demonstration that employers need to ensure they are fully informed about the background of everyone on their books, and that they make the safety and reputation of their company a priority. Simply taking someone’s word for it when they claim to be entitled to work in the UK legally is just not an option.

“Companies must be aware that they will be the ones to face the fines and legal action if they fail to check the small print, and the onus is on the employer to take responsibility by asking the right questions.”