Terror alert: legal experts warn of potential pitfalls in over-enthusiastic checking of staff

Legal experts have warned that encouraging HR professionals to take more responsibility for checking and monitoring immigrants coming to work for them could “land them in trouble”.

Matthew Davies, employment lawyer and partner at law firm Fox Williams, told Personnel Today: “Employers are not expected to, nor should they, act as immigration officers.”

Davies said that keeping terrorists out of the country was the duty of the government, which has the resources and security procedures to do so.

“A reasonable employer would report terrorist suspicion to the police, but encouraging the employer to take too much responsibility could land them in trouble,” he said.

Fox Williams warned that employers making assumptions about suspicious activity by employees risked discrimination claims.

Meanwhile, an NHS insider revealed that Asian health workers were already feeling the strain of last week’s media coverage.

“The profile of the race and profession of those arrested has impacted on foreign doctors,” the source told Personnel Today. “HR must make sure that people are not mistreated, and that the terror attacks do not affect innocent people.”

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development advised employers to follow the same recruitment practices for all employees – ensuring they obtain references and check factual information, such as qualifications and employment history. It also pointed to its downloadable guide, Tackling Staff Fraud and Dishonesty: Managing and Mitigating the Risks.

The Home Office said any HR professionals concerned that an employee or job candidate might be involved in terrorist activity should call its hotline on 0800 789 321.

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