23rd November 2007

INFORMATION
UPDATE

 Issue No.  2007/30

 Sentient
              

 

 EMPLOYING FOREIGN NATIONALS

STOP PRESS:   Employers must hire immigrant workers through legal means only, or face severe penalties, the Home Office announced yesterday (22nd November 2007) – see final paragraph.
 
The Home Office also announced that over the next 12 months the Border & Immigration Agency will introduce:
  •  An Australian-style points based system to make sure only workers with the skills to benefit Britain’s economy come to the UK;
  • A single border force bringing together the Border and Immigration Agency, Customs and UKvisas providing a “tougher, highly visible policing presence at Britain’s ports and airports”; and 
  • Compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals allowing the Government to know who is in the UK and what they are entitled to. 
We will keep you updated in future information updates.
 
Employing foreign nationals has increased hugely over the last 12 months and much media attention has focused on workers entering the UK from the former “Eastern Block”.  Aside from all the political point scoring opportunities this might present, there are some important practical implications for employers.
 
Employers might ask themselves –
 

 

 

·   What legal considerations are there?

·   Are management changes needed?  

·   What legal compliance is required?

·      Are there any special rules for EU Nationals?  

·      Am I obliged to deal with the language issue?  

·      How do I induct and train staff?

 
In a series of Information Updates, we will address these and other issues.  In this first Update, we will address “The Legal Right to Work in the UK”.
 
Legal Right to Work in the UK
What an Employer must do now
 
Put simply Employers must verify that anyone they employ has a legal right to be in and work in the United Kingdom. So - when recruiting ask for sight of one of the following “secure” documents:-
 
¤  UK Passport       ¤   UK residence permit     ¤   EEA Passport and national identity card
 
If no secure document can be produced, as an alternative check two documents as follows:-
 

Either:              

  

An official document bearing a National Insurance Number along with a full birth certificate, a letter from the Home Office or an Immigration Status Document.

Or:

 

                      

A Work Permit along with either a Passport or a letter from the Home Office confirming that the holder has permission to enter and remain in the UK and take the work permit in question.

 
Employers must see “originals” and record or (ideally) take a copy of any document relied upon and be satisfied that it relates to the person in question.
 
European Workers
European Community law gives Nationals from:  Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland a right to live and work in the United Kingdom.
 
However, Nationals from: Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic who want to work in the United Kingdom will need to register with the Home Office as part of the Worker Registration Scheme.  (The Worker Registration Scheme will be considered in more detail in the next information update.)
 
Workers from Bulgaria or Romania, whilst not requiring leave to enter or remain to reside in the UK, will still need to obtain authorisation to work before starting any employment unless they are exempt from doing so. (We will cover the employers’ requirements regarding Bulgarian and Romanian workers in a separate update.)
 
Penalty
If you fail to ensure your employees can legally work in the UK - you may be guilty of committing a criminal offence.  If convicted, the maximum penalty you will face is £5000, for each illegal worker.
 
However, the Home Office announced yesterday (22nd November 2007) that under new measures, to take effect in February 2008:
  • Employers who negligently hire illegal workers could face a maximum fine of £10,000 for each illegal worker found at a business.
  • Employers who are found to have knowingly hired illegal workers could incur an unlimited fine and be sent to prison.

 

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