Are Your Employees Legal?
One of my clients is a company employing around 30 employees. They have been established for around 10 years, have been successful and are growing. Their employees are loyal and many have been there since the beginning. They don’t have an HR department, so they ask for my help when they have a question about HR.
When I started working with them, I explained that they should check that all their employees have the right to work in the UK before their first day of work and that their documents must be originals. They have dutifully been taking copies of the relevant documents of the new employees who have started. However, they had never quite got around to checking all their original employees.
As the company was struggling to fill some key roles in the business, they decided to look outside Europe and applied for a Sponsorship Licence. This is a lengthy and time consuming process, so they decided to work with a specialist company to help them with the process. This company warned that as part of this process they are likely to have an audit of all their current staff and their paperwork.
My client’s MD asked a member of the admin team, Rebecca, to do an audit of their Proof of Right to Work paperwork. She was busy chasing up people for documents when she came across a copy of a passport containing an indefinite leave to remain endorsement. This means that the member of staff to whom the passport belongs, Andrew, is allowed to stay and work in the UK. However, Rebecca noticed that the passport had expired two years ago. She asked Andrew if his passport had been renewed and to bring in a copy for her to see. He duly brought in his current passport but it did not contain any immigration endorsements. At this point Rebecca called me and I told her that Andrew should have obtained a separate biometric residence permit when he got his new passport.
Panic – what does this mean? Effectively my client has been employing Andrew illegally and there is no alternative than to terminate Andrew’s employment with immediate effect. However, Andrew had been a valued member of the team, so once he obtained the right documentation they were able to re-employ him straight away.
A satisfactory outcome, but it took time and effort and it was a stressful time for all concerned. How could this situation be avoided? By keeping accurate records:
- Make sure that all documentation provided by your members of staff is up to date
- Make sure the key document on file is one that is on the list of acceptable documents
- When there is time-limited permission to work in the UK make a diary note well in advance of the expiry date to make sure you check if the permission has been extended or changed and whether this has an effect on the employee’s right to work for you
- Keep a spreadsheet with all the relevant details on as a back-up and audit it regularly.
Follow these simple steps to make sure that your employees are all legal. If you’re not sure, get in touch by calling 01635 600305 or by clicking here to email us.
Practical HR – Prevention is Better Than Cure
Bill nearly had some problems with ‘illegal’ staff too. If you’ve read a few of our newsletters, you’ll know by now that Bill has a fairly relaxed attitude when it comes to his staff. Despite running a very successful IT company, Bill doesn’t like interviewing, but prefers to give jobs to people he knows and trusts. He’s not keen on annual appraisals or setting goals; and sometimes staff get up to things without Bill knowing it!
Luckily for Bill he has the wonderful Belinda working for him. It’s not really her job to look after the HR issues in the business, but she keeps an eye out for legal changes and things that might affect the company. Recently she read an article about the importance of keeping staff records and of making sure that everyone has the right to work in the UK. She thought it would be a good idea to ask all the members of the team to bring in their passports, so that she could make a copy of them, for her records. When Biju showed her his passport, she noticed that his work visa was due to expire in a couple of months. ”Lucky we spotted this now,” she told Bill. “Let’s find out what we need to do to renew his visa and keep him here. He’s one of the best members of the support team.”
Employment Law Update
There is more information online to help you make sure that you and your staff are on the right side of Employment Law.
Right to Work – There is a useful online tool here for checking someone’s right to work.
Penalties for illegal employment – Find out what they are here.
The Immigration Bill 2016 gets Royal Assent.
Employing people from outside the UK – What else do you need to know? There is more advice here.
If you have any questions about HR or the staff in your business, please do get in touch for an informal, completely confidential chat. Call us on 01635 600305.