Byron Burger, Immigration and the importance of having clear policies – By Eluned Ward

The publicity surrounding Byron Burgers in the last couple of weeks has shown the difficulties that Companies can have in balancing complying with legislation/regulations and what their customers expect.  In the case of Byron Burgers they cooperated with the Home Office, and consequently the workers were, on 4 July this year, arrested and detained. Some have subsequently apparently been deported.  If the reports are true the employees were invited to training sessions and subsequently meet by immigration officials requesting to see documentation to prove the right to work in the UK.  This resulted in protests, calls for the restaurant chain to be boycotted and insects being released in one of the restaurants.  However if you look at it from an employer’s point of view with unlimited fines, the possibility of prison sentences as well as the power to shut down business for 48 hours which came in with The Immigration Act, its no wonder Byron Burgers complied with the Home Office.  So what can employers do to avoid the attention grabbing headlines whilst complying with the legislation:

  1. If you have a recruitment policy ensure that it is clear over what checks perspective employees will have to complete to show they have the right to work in the UK.
  2. When inviting individuals to interview ask the candidates to provide proof of the right to work in the UK and make sure you have the facilities to take photocopies of the documentation. To avoid claims of discrimination, the checks should be completed on all perspective employees.
  3. Ensure all job offers are conditional based on the employee completing all the pre-employment checks including providing right to work in the UK documentation
  4. If a prospective employee fails to present their documents prior to, or on, their first day of employment, you must delay their start date until such evidence is provided.
  5. Complete documentation checks:
  • Check the original documents in the presence of the holder and do not accept copy documents.
  • Check all the information contained on all the documents i.e. birth dates and cross reference visa dates against the employee’s employment history.
  • All documents produced, e.g. passports and visa copies, must be on the acceptable documents checklist, known as List A and List B, published on the government website.
  • Copy all visa pages in passports plus the photographic page and/or both sides of the Biometric Residence Card that is presented to you. All Biometric Residence Cards should specify whether or not work is permitted. Be mindful of restrictions related to students.  Where possible make colour photocopies.
  • Whoever makes the photocopies should sign and date the document to confirm when the checks were completed.
  1. Keep records of all documentation for the duration of the individual’s employment. A good HR management system is good way to store the documents which can them be used to show the authorities
  2. Where the perspective employee is able to work due to a visa, check to so if there are any restrictions over what they can and cannot do. If in doubt over the status of a visa, check with Sponsorship, Employer and Education helpline
  3. If a person is here on a student visa, undertake checks with the education provider to ensure they are currently studying. Most students are restricted to the number of hours they are allowed to work, so track and monitor the numbers of hours they are working.  This can be done through a HR management system.
  4. Track and monitor visa expiry dates and request an employee’s updated document where there is a time limit. Don’t wait until the date the visa expires, ask the employee to provide evidence in advance and keep a record of any request. Again a good HR management system can help you manage the process.
  5. Take advantage of the Home Office Employer Checking Service if your employee has a pending application or appeal against an immigration application decision but you will need your employee to provide you with a case identification number in order to access the service.

HPC can help you with recruitment practices to support right to work checks and if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact.

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