Exeter 5 – 6 June 2007
Charles Kelly, Immigration Adviser, opened the “Who Cares?” and “What Disability?” Show at Exeter last week.
His subject: Are You Employing Staff Illegally?
Charles Kelly, MD of Bison Management
Care Homes all over the UK are receiving letters, questionnaires and visits from the Borders and Immigration Agency’s (formerly Work Permits UK/Home Office) Compliance Department. In the meantime Work Permits and extensions are becoming increasingly harder to obtain, as rules are ‘reinterpreted’ by Work Permit case officers.
Employers could face fines of up £5000 per illegal employee and a possible 2 year prison sentence for knowingly using or exploiting illegal workers.
Whilst the vast majority of employers in this country are honest law abiding, many employers are still unwittingly employing overseas staff illegally.
Since writing about this problem last year I have received hundreds of enquiries from worried employers.
As an immigration adviser I have found that employers are still making the same mistakes when employing non EU citizens:
Accepting invalid or expired Work Permits
Accepting a Work Permit issued for another employer
Employing someone without Further Leave to Remain (FLR)
Employing Students beyond the maximum permitted hours
Employing people with documents “tied up” at the Home Office
Other common problems occur when a care worker or nurse on a work permit leaves one employer to join another. In many cases the employee will simply present their passport (which apparently indicates they have a valid visa) and their National Insurance card.
The employer is often unaware that the visa or Leave to Remain is connected to the Work Permit, which has been issued to their former employer and is therefore invalid.
The previous employer also has a duty to inform the Home Office to cancel the Work Permit.
The CSCI will check your employee files for valid work permits and visas. A National Insurance number, P45 or P60 no longer provides an employer with ‘statutory defence’.
What are the employer’s responsibilities?
You must check and take reasonable steps to ensure that any potential employee is entitled to work in the UK. Steps include checking passports, visas stamps and where applicable valid work permits.
In the case of students, check the type of course they are undertaking. Most students can work up to 2o hours per week, but some ‘sandwich’ courses may allow them to work for longer.
Finally, where the person has passports and documents perpetually “tied up” at the Home Office, ask for further written proof of their eligibility to work or call the Home Office yourself.
This is obviously a complex subject and I suggest you take legal advice if in any doubt.
Where can employers find further information?
The Home Office publishes a guide on their website (www.workingintheuk.gov.uk/) and also has an Employer Helpline 0845 010 6677. Copies of example visas and passport stamps can be viewed and downloaded from the site. The Home Office website is huge and finding the correct information can be difficult.
More user friendly information can also be found on the Business Link website (www.businesslink.gov.uk) in a section on “Employing People”. Different rules apply to citizens of the new EU member states see Home Office site for information on the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS)
If you should have any questions or views you would like to express concerning Work Permit, Visa Extensions, Leave to Remain please email Charles Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org.