What isn’t in dispute are the consequences of employing an illegal worker in the UK. Apart from the Home Office fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker, there’s possible prison terms for directors, bad publicity and a negative impact on a publicly listed organisation’s share price.
Brexit is also a major game changer. It means that the free movement of labour will cease on the 31st December 2020, regardless of whether a deal is reached. Brexit ultimately creates a new set of statuses for EU citizens: Pre-Settled Status, Temporary Leave to Remain and Border Worker. Each one with its own set of rights and restrictions.
While the lead up to Brexit will undoubtedly contain many twists and turns, employers must be vigilant that the correct checks have been conducted on existing workers. Right to work checks are challenging at the best of times, and the introduction of new worker statuses will undoubtedly make the matter even more complicated.
The construction sector has always encountered challenges with the employment of illegal workers. An industry that faces both financial pressures and the need to deliver projects on time has been particularly prone to illegal workers and the people that exploit them.
A cross-industry campaign called ‘Operation Magnify’ was launched in 2015 to tackle the issue. Whilst the initiative may have had some initial impact, the industry continues to face the same challenges due to the prolific use of subcontractors and agency workers.
All these issues combined mean that the construction sector needs to redouble its efforts to ensure illegal workers aren’t being employed or exploited.
The Home Office will undoubtedly be placing a greater focus on ensuring that employers conduct Right to Work checks in a timely and compliant manner, as well as ensuring continuous monitoring is in place
If you need advice, guidance or practical support in ensuring you reduce the risk of employing illegal workers and have systems and processes in place to provide your organisation with a statutory excuse,
GBG’s team of consultants and our online vetting service, KnowYourPeople can help. Click here and complete our enquiry form to find out more.