Illegal Working – Are you covered?
In recent months there has been significant focus on the employment of illegal workers in the UK, and employers, who bear the burden of ascertaining eligibility to work, are being scrutinised further in terms of their practices in this regard.
Employers are liable for civil penalties of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker if they fail to carry out the necessary checks on individuals before they commence work and are found to be employing someone without the right to work in the UK. Additionally, knowing employing an illegal worker is considered a criminal offence and could result in 2 years imprisonment or, an unlimited fine.
In terms of how to conduct checks, employers should ensure that they have a robust process in place for doing so. All potential employees should be checked before commencing employment and no assumptions should be made. To prevent the risk of discrimination, employers should apply any checking policy in a consistent manner. Any process for checking the eligibility of workers should make provision for actually obtaining an employee’s documentation as well as checking the same. A list of acceptable documentation can be found on the Home Office website. In terms of checking the documentation, employers should ascertain that the documentation is genuine and has not been tampered with. Employers must check that the photos, name and dates are consistent across the documents together with the relevant expiry dates. Any work permits should also be reviewed. Employers must take a copy of the documentation and retain the same for not less than 2 years after employment has ended.
The checking process does not end at recruitment and follow up checks can be required. You should have a system in place that allows this to be done readily. Failure to carry out repeat checks will result in the same civil and criminal liabilities. Employers are also under an obligation to check the right to work of employees who come into their employment via TUPE although there is a 60 day grace period from the day of the transfer to carry out all checks.
If you are concerned about your current practices or policy, please contact one of our advisors on 01274 864999.