Monday, 9 April 2007

Warning over immigrant workers

Shropshire company directors risk jail if they don’t ensure overseas workers have been cleared to work in the UK.

The influx of more than 420,000 workers from Eastern Europe in the last two years has led to a whole new source of employees for a wide range of companies.

But John Mehtam, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said directors were personally responsible for ensuring the workers were here legally.

“The new pool of workers is an incredible opportunity for companies across the UK, but many directors may not be aware of the risks they are taking if they don’t pay particular attention to the small print.

“It’s vital that companies ensure the immigrants are here legally, because otherwise it will be your firm and not the immigrant who will be in trouble.

“In fact, if you are found to have staff who are working here illegally, you could face a jail sentence under the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006.”

John said the Home Office suggests employers ask to see either a full UK or European Economic Area passport; a British birth certificate and evidence of their National Insurance number; or a passport which is stamped to say the person has permission to work in the UK.

“Check carefully to make sure any photos on the identification they show you match their appearance, and that the dates of birth and names given on documents match perfectly.

“Overseas workers can be a useful addition to your company, and many British companies have been particularly delighted with the Eastern Europeans and their attitude to hard work.
“Many company directors also believe having overseas workers is good for company culture, so employing overseas staff brings a lot of positive points, as long as you take care with the documentation.”