30th November 2007


 Issue No.  2007/32



(No.4 in a series of 4)

Employing Foreign National workers does give rise to factors which employers will need to consider. Employers with a multicultural workforce, will find that these considerations are nothing new.
Employment Considerations
Employers need to treat all Foreign National workers equally to other workers. In other-words Employers should not discriminate or subject foreign nationals to less favourable treatment and should take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination/harassment by other workers/third parties on the grounds of their nationality, race, or ethnic or national origins. 
Foreign National workers should not be subject to any detriment simply because of their limited English – to require employees to have a certain proficiency of English, could be a “provision criterion or practice” which if it puts people of certain  race, or ethnic or national origins at a disadvantage could amount to indirect race discrimination.
Foreign National workers have the same rights as other workers and are entitled to be on the same terms and conditions as other workers doing similar work, e.g. issued with a Principal Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment; paid the same rates of pay, same holiday entitlement, same hours of work, etc.
Employers will have to give consideration to how Terms and Conditions, induction programme, job training is communicated to the Foreign National workers, where the workers’ English language skill are limited.
Health & Safety
Employers have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees, workers and other third parties.
Providing a safe working environment, can be achieved with:
  •  appropriate safety signs prominently displayed;
  • appropriate Risk Assessments carried out;
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being issued, where appropriate, and workers informed of when and how to use it;
  • appropriate procedures in place (e.g. fire evacuation procedures),
  • appropriate training being provided (e.g. manual handling, use of PPE)
  • appropriate records being maintained, along with other associated documents;
  • a publicised and operative Health and Safety Policy;
  • appropriate safe working procedures.
A major issue for Employers is communicating the above to Workers especially when English is not their first language.
In a recent case, an Uxbridge based company were fined £35,000 at a London Magistrates court following an accident in which a Romanian Worker lost a leg after being hit by a 20-tonne loading shovel.  The worker claimed that he had not understood the company’s health and safety systems because of his limited English.
Consideration will need to be given by Employers on how employment terms, rules and procedures, including safety signs, safety policy, and other such key documents are communicated to workers.
For Foreign National workers, consideration will need to be given to having signs and key documents translated into the worker’s first language, so that Employers can be assured that the worker knows the rules and procedures and does not put themselves or other workers at risk of death or injury.   Equally, induction and Training provided to workers may need to be done with the aid of a translator to ensure the immigrant workers can benefit from the induction and training. 
Sentient are able to signpost you to a Translation Service if required, or if you require any Health & Safety support, call us on 08456 446 006.



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