Lack of skilled migrant compliance could land HR directors in prison

HR directors are putting themselves at risk of jail or huge fines ahead of the new rules for employing skilled migrant workers, a survey has found.

Under Tiers 2 and 5 of the new points-based system – covering skilled migrant workers and overseas temps respectively – organisations wishing to hire workers from outside the EU from 1 November need to be listed on the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) register of sponsors.

A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Legal found that 88% of HR teams have still not applied for a sponsorship licence. HR directors who fail to implement illegal working laws leave themselves open to possible prison sentences and their firms open to fines of £10,000 per employee.

More than half of the 170 HR directors surveyed cited concerns at checking their internal processes as the main reason for not registering. In addition, 60% of those surveyed said they either didn’t know if they had the systems in place to track the basic information required by the UKBA.

Julia Onslow-Cole, partner and head of global immigration at PwC Legal, said: “Currently, UKBA will only guarantee that sponsorship applications received by 1 October will be processed in time, leaving companies facing additional HR challenges at a time of uncertain economic conditions.

“This process takes time and the clock is ticking loudly. Migrant compliance is not optional and companies need to heed this warning.”

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