Modern Slavery and the importance of vetting your staff

Did you know employing illegal immigrants or failing to carry-out the vetting process and keeping a solid paper-trail could ultimately result in £20k fine per employee and even up to five years in prison?

Operation Magnify was introduced in 2015 to crack down on the employment of illegal immigrants. It puts into sharp focus the need for all businesses to carry out proper background checks at the start of the employment relationship – whether it seems necessary or not.
Specific industries are being directly targeted, including construction, care homes, food and hospitality, and agriculture. Among the stated intentions of the operation are to protect legitimate employers, and provide more job opportunities and better prospects for UK citizens and legal migrants.
Just last month, 100 people were found to be working illegally in UK nail bars and were arrested.
This crackdown is also intended to tackle the ‘barbaric crime’ of modern slavery and victims of human trafficking. Many traffickers lure their victims to the UK via the Internet, promising a good job and a better quality of life. But instead these victims arrive illegally and become exploited and forced to work.
As part of the activity last month, warning notices were delivered to 68 businesses stating that they will be fined £20,000 per illegal worker if they have not performed the appropriate background checks.
In a high profile case last summer, burger chain Byron Burger was caught up in a furore for employing illegal immigrants – a result of not performing the necessary background checks. The resulting press was in no way good for the brand.
It is of paramount importance to check the right to work of each prospective employee before you take them on.  Employing illegal immigrants or failing to carry-out the vetting process and keeping a solid paper-trail could ultimately result in £20k fine per employee and even up to five years in prison.

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Ian heads up the HR Dept Edinburgh & the Lothians team. The HR Dept specialises in helping SMEs with everything to with employment, through a local and personal service delivering practical and pragmatic advice and support. With nearly 30 years HR experience, Ian has a wealth of experience in helping businesses to ensure success through their people, be legally compliant and handle tricky people issues. As a business owner himself, Ian understands the challenges that come with running and growing a business. He is known for his ability to explain complex concepts simply and to make learning fun and enjoyable.