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Chamber HR News – Preventing Illegal Working August 17, 2007

Posted by liverpoolchamber in Chamber HR, Chamber Services, Services.
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This week’s article from Chamber HR looks at illegal working:

No one knows the true depth of the problem but undoubtedly there are tens of thousands of illegal workers within the three nations that comprise Great Britain.

Thousands avoiding, and being aided in their avoidance by unscrupulous employers and others within, creating a massive black hole in the aim to create a level employment field with full employment and health and safety protection.

Over time the Government has rolled out policy after policy to stem the tide and the latest attempts are contained in the Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, which will come into effect in 2008, and resorts to modern science with its growing reliance on bio-metric documentation. A further part of the proposal is the introduction of a new system of both civil and criminal policies and with it a consultation paper on those proposals. The consultation period for which is to close on 7th August 2007.

The new legislation will move to an earlier prevention of the problem by introducing overseas checks on applicants with the introduction of a bio-metric immigration documents and the new Points Based System of visa entry. Thus placing a greater onus on employers to undertake recruitment checks prior to and during employment. With the points system will come a sponsorship system placing a further requirement on employers to make sure that non European Economic Area employees leave at the end of their work permit.

In addition, substantial resources are to be made available to provide the Border and Immigration Agency with the ability to identify, investigate and prosecute any abuse of the system. This will enable the issue of civil penalties by compliance officers as well as further enforcement action in appropriate cases.

Employers need to look to their recruitment procedures if they are to avoid the penalties anticipated under the new regime. Currently, under section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, there is no distinction between the less diligent and criminal employer; this will change under the new regime. The new proposals provide for a code of practice to be published for employers, to follow when recruiting, to show that they have undertaken the required checks to a prospective employees’ identity. Employers will be required to carry out the document checks at the point of recruitment and to undertaken subsequent checks at specified intervals for migrant workers who have limited leave to enter or remain within the United Kingdom.
In addition, where an employer is acting as a sponsor under the Points Based System, they will be responsible for checking to ensure that the person is able and qualified to the job for which they are being sponsored. Even if they use an agency the liability for any civil penalty will remain with the employer.

Where an employer knowingly employs someone who is an illegal worker then there will be a further range of criminal penalties that can also be imposed.

This will create an additional administrative burden for employers. The aim of the Agency is to educate employers to ensure that they follow the guidance properly and to use compliance notices as well as instigating fines in civil cases where there has been a failure to follow the procedure and enforce the new regime.

The Consultation is seeking views on the penalty regime and the code of practice that will set out the factors to be taken into account when deciding the level of the civil penalty to be imposed.

The scale of the problem is such that action needs to be taken and employers need to ensure that they review their overseas workers recruitment policies, ensuring that they do not incur the increased civil penalties for failing to take the proper checks and precautions prior to and during recruitment.

Further details and guidance on Recruitment and Selection are available on the ChamberHR website www.chamberhr.co.uk

If you have not received your website log in details or you are a new member and would like to register to use the service please contact the membership team by email at membership@liverpoolchamber.org.uk or by telephone on 0151 227 1234

In response to a number of enquiries on the ChamberHR website, next weeks article will be on Flexible Working.

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