Insider Media reports that the director of a Southend restaurant has been disqualified for six years for employing illegal workers. Home Office immigration enforcement officers found three illegal workers in 2015 – the restaurant closed later that year after being fined £30,000.
ELAS employment law consultant Jacob Demeza Wilkinson says: “It is vitally important that employers are taking all steps necessary to ensure that all staff, no matter what their nationality, are legally entitled to work in the UK. It is a legal requirement for a business to employ only those people who are legally entitled to work and, as this case highlights, the consequences for failing to carry out these checks can be particularly severe. Ignorance is not a defence in matters such as this, so it is important that employers are aware of what they are required to do.
“The obligation for employers begins at the recruitment stage. Once an offer of employment is made to an individual, the employer should request documentation from the employee confirming their right to work legally in the UK. It is important that original documents are provided and copies should not be accepted. It is common and good practice to make an offer of employment conditional on the individual’s ability to provide these documents and, in fact, it is standard practice to make the request in the offer letter. It is also important to take copies of the documents that have been provided and keep them on file as evidence should an inspection take place.
“Any decision on whether certain documents allow a person to work in the UK is made by UK Visas and Immigration (formerly the Border Agency) so if you have any doubts about the validity of a document, it is advisable to contact them for a conclusive answer.
“These checks will become increasingly important over coming years as the right to move freely within the EU is removed, so now is a good time, if you don’t already, to ensure that your recruitment process fully covers checks on the right to work in the UK.”