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How to ensure you are employing foreign workers legally


Related topics: Ask the Experts, Business, Legislation, Restaurants, Hotels, Pubs & Bars

The UK Border Agency's head of Immigration, Jeremy Oppenheim, outlines how employers can check whether foreign nationals have the right to work in the UK.

The biometric residence permits offer to make it easier for employers to check if employees have rights to work in the UK

The biometric residence permits offer to make it easier for employers to check if employees have rights to work in the UK

Problem: Illegal working has damaging social and economic consequences for the UK. It undercuts businesses that operate within the law, undermines British workers, and exploits migrant workers. Employers are responsible for carrying out document checks.

Solution: The UK Border Agency is committed to simplifying the documents it issues to foreign nationals. All migrants from outside the European Economic Area applying to stay for more than six months from the end of February 2012 will be issued with a biometric residence permit if successful in their application. It replaces the wide range of documents UK employers currently use to check an individual's right to work in the UK. Checking employee details is easier, simpler and more secure.

In addition, from spring 2012, employers will be able to verify online that the details contained on an employee's biometric residence permit are correct.

What are biometric residence permits?

Biometric residence permits are credit card sized immigration documents that hold a person's fingerprints and photograph on a secure chip. The permits are issued to non-EEA nationals with permission to remain in the UK for more than six months.

How do they work?

These permits simplify the process for employers by providing a standard, recognisable and secure document to check that clearly demonstrates whether the holder has the right to work.

Employers can download specific guidance for checking biometric residence permits from the UK Border Agency’s website. The new online checking service will provide quick and easy real-time checks on the permit, the holder’s identity and their right to work.

What happens if I employ an illegal worker?

There are tough penalties - up to £10,000 per illegal worker - for employers who are found to be employing people illegally. The UK Border Agency regularly conducts visits to businesses that are suspected of ignoring the rules. The Agency also works to raise awareness among workers in the hospitality sector that failure to provide proof of right to work in the UK prevents individuals from obtaining employment.

Where can I get more information?


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