Employers face migrant worker ban for breaking strict new sponsorship rules as Home Office admits employing illegal immigrant on reception

The Home Office last night warned employers about migrant workers – as it admitted it had employed an illegal worker to guard its front door.

Paula Higson, director of managed migration at the Home Office, told Personnel Today that firms will be stripped of their migrant workers if they fail to follow strict rules being brought in next year.

As she spoke at the Home Office’s Marsham Street headquarters, home secretary Jacqui Smith was admitting that a Nigerian man who has guarded the door to that building for 19 months had no right to work in the UK.

He was one of 11,000 suspected illegal migrants cleared to work by the Home Office agency the Security Industry Authority (SIA) before July this year.

Under the points-based system being phased in from early 2008, employers have to register as sponsors if they want to bring in foreign workers.

Sponsors will be subjected to inspections to make sure they are complying with guidelines such as maintaining contact details and reporting prolonged absences.

Higson said failed inspections would lead to a series of sanctions beginning with employers being relegated from the A list of sponsors to the B list.

“This is a public register on the internet, and anyone on it would be working very closely with our teams on an action plan,” said Higson.

“In the end, if we are not satisfied, the employer will come off the register and will not allowed to have any migrant workers from the points-based system.”

Foreign staff already at the company would be given a period of time to find other work but eventually be asked to leave the banned employer, she added.

But shadow home secretary David Davis said: “Last week the home secretary could not go out of her way enough to lay the blame for the SIA shambles at the door of employers. If she is going to try and avoid responsibility in such a way she should at least check her own house is in order.

“Who will the Home Office now prosecute and fine? Itself? Coming after the revelation the Home Office was guilty of employing illegal immigrants as cleaners, it is clear that this government is part of the problem, not the solution.”

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