Charles Kelly at the Care Home Conference 2006
Immigration adviser and recruitment specialist, Charles Kelly, addressed the Care Conference at Britain’s biggest Care Show at the NEC today.
The title of Charles’ talk: “Are You Employing Overseas Staff Illegally?” went down well with the audience at the show, which had a record 2000 pre-registered visitors.
Charles was keen to stress that he was talking about employers who unwittingly employ staff without proper papers and not those who deliberately flout the law.
“There are thousands of people working illegally in the UK”, Charles said. “The government admitted that there could be half a million people in the UK illegally, and most of them I guess are working somewhere??”
Charles covered the main changes following the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act, which became law in March 2006.
Measures are being introduced to prevent illegal working including new penalties of £2000 and a possible 2 year custodial sentence if found knowingly to use or exploit illegal workers.
In practice this means that employer’s must ensure employees have the right to work, and check passports, visas, and, where applicable, work permits.
He also stressed that work permits are applicable to one employer and are not transferable.
“We talk to at least one employer every week who is employing someone on a work permit issued to a previous company”.
Charles pointed out that this situation often goes on for years and only comes to light when the unfortunate work permit holder tries to renew their visa or apply for indefinite leave, in some cases leading to deportation.
Charles called on the government to recognise that the care industry desperately needs staff and has thousands of unfilled vacancies.
“The industry will always find it difficult to recruit sufficient staff. One reason is that care homes are competing against the Tesco’s and Starbucks of this world, which can afford higher wages and better working conditions.”
“Workers in Tescos and Starbucks don’t have to do NVQs or go through registration
and can earn more money with better social hours”
The new Eastern European workers are NOT going to solve the problem because they have the same rights as UK residents to work in Tesco’s and Starbucks.
In closing, Charles wished to remind the Government that:
- The care industry is a special case
- The care industry needs overseas workers
- The care industry would collapse without overseas staff
Finally he urged the Home Office not to shut the doors to non-EU overseas workers and to leave some flexibility in the system or – as Dame Denise Platt said – “patients could be put at risk”.
Further details of the full speech are available on request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org