Q How does the new Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act affect me as an employer?
A The new act, which came into effect on February 29, 2008, introduces a new criminal offence for employers who knowingly hire or keep on employees who are not legally allowed to work in the UK. Non-compliance can result in fines of up to £10,000 and even a prison sentence of up to two years.
Since the 1997 Asylum and Immigration Act, employers have had to make checks to ensure their employees have the right to work in the UK. But the new act has upgraded the documents that are acceptable: these include a passport or a full UK birth certificate, a National Insurance number or a P45 from a past employer. Other documents may be acceptable, but employers should check with the Border & Immigration Agency website to ensure they meet approval. The BIA has a list of acceptable documents, as well as employers' guides and other information (www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk).
Employers should ensure they make regular checks on employee working status and that they clear employees with the accepted documents. They should make sure that photos and other details provided are a match.
When recruiting, guard against discrimination. Don't just ask candidates who look "foreign" for proof of their working status. It should be asked as a matter of course upon offering someone a job.
There is a positive to the new act, in that it provides employers with an excuse to reinstate discipline across all of its recruitment practices. Many don't even ask to see professional certificates or degrees when they offer candidates a job. This is an opportunity to put more rigorous checks in place for everyone.
For details on how Croner can support your business, visit www.croner.co.uk
Prevention of Illegal Working: Immigration, Asylum, and Nationality Act 2006, an employer's guide is available to download at: www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk