Employers lackadaisical on right-to-work checks

More than nine in ten employers risk sponsor licence revocation for migrant workers and many are also at risk of instant Home Office closure.

This startling finding emerges from research carried out by Migrate UK, a specialist immigration law firm, who surveyed 1,000 businesses currently holding a Tier 2/Tier 5 licence to sponsor overseas workers.

Less than a third of companies are aware of the serious sanctions for non-compliance to strict ‘right to work’ rules for overseas workers, from fines to prison sentences for directors, or even instant closure - not least the potential impact to business’ reputation.

Only a third of businesses knew what documents should be kept on file for sponsored overseas workers and 95% of company sponsors were not reporting all the required changes in circumstances for sponsored workers. Migrate UK also found that just 7% of companies are advertising job vacancies correctly when filling a job for a non-EEA citizen under sponsorship rules, along with other key errors in business compliances, checks and audits.

Jonathan Beech, Managing Director of Migrate UK, said: ‘Many businesses are already seeing a growing skills problem in the UK, particularly in the IT, finance and engineering sectors relying heavily on skills from outside the UK which will decline if companies fail to get their “house in order” and prevent a loss of talent before the UK exits the EU … Too many companies are sleepwalking towards the challenges ahead. With a new UK immigration system said to be due in place by March 2019 when the free movement of people between the EU and the UK ends, it is likely that EEA citizens will need some kind of clearance to enter the UK to work, and sponsorship is one way they could do this. Losing a licence post-Brexit will be even worse news as skills shortages become even more acute’.

Jonathan gives this advice: ‘Employers wishing to retain both EU and non-EEA workers need to get fully prepared ahead of Brexit. HR files should be kept for all workers, endorsed and with passport copies. Carry out internal audits to ensure all correct paperwork is in place should the Home Office make a visit. Finally, while informing EU nationals that their status has not yet changed, they should be aware of their ability to apply for a Registration Certificate of Permanent Residence or British nationality if they want to safeguard their future in Britain’.