Home Office changes checking criteria to halt illegal working

Employers must be increasingly vigilant when hiring new staff after the Home
Office changed the criteria for checking if individuals are eligible to work in
the UK.

In a bid to clamp down on illegal working, David Blunkett has introduced a
series of changes that affect employers’ statutory defence against possible
convictions for breaching regulations in the Asylum and Immigration Act.

From 1 May, businesses must check different identification documents to
comply with the rules. Employers must check documents, stipulated by the Home
Office, and carry out reasonable steps to ensure they are genuine. These
include checking that photos match the candidate, ensuring the expiry dates
have not passed and making sure the details contained in the documents are
consistent with those of the potential employee.

Certain documents such as UK or European Economic Area (EEA) passports, UK
residence permits or national identity cards are sufficient on their own, but
if none of these are available employers must check two forms of identification
from a second list.

They are also required to make a Write Only Read Many copy of the required
documents for employees that started work after 30 April.

Karl Deakin, an employment specialist at law firm Veale Wasbrough, said
companies must ensure their procedures are robust or risk fines of up to
£5,000, which the authorities are considering increasing.

However, firms must also be careful not to discriminate against workers from
ethnic minority backgrounds or they could face other legal claims.

"If employers ask only employees who appear to be from overseas to
provide documents, they could face costly race discrimination claims. Checks
should be carried out on all successful job applicants, irrespective of their
apparent nationality," he said.

The Government has also established a registration scheme for workers coming
to Britain from eight of the 10 new EU member states to help monitor their
impact on the labour market.

Employers’ helpline: 0845 0106677. Home Office guidance: www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk


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