Navigating Stricter Penalties for Unlawful Employment

15 August 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of workforce management, the past few years have posed unprecedented challenges for recruiters, particularly those in the construction, trades and labour sectors.

While the recent relaxation of visa regulations aimed to alleviate the scarcity of skilled labour by enticing overseas workers, the government has simultaneously taken a resolute stance against the employment of undocumented migrants.

The implications are clear: stricter penalties await businesses that overlook their responsibility to verify the legality of their workforce.

Starting next year, a seismic shift in penalties for companies employing illegal migrants will take effect, emphasising the vital role of robust Right To Work checks. The initial financial hit for businesses flouting these regulations will surge from £15,000 to a substantial £45,000, signalling the government’s unwavering commitment to upholding lawful employment practices. For repeat offenders, the repercussions are even more severe, as fines will triple from £20,000 to a staggering £60,000.

In the context of this regulatory landscape, it becomes imperative for recruitment agencies to sustain their vigilance in assessing the eligibility of workers to operate within the UK. The rigorous verification process is a cornerstone of our service for a diverse array of engagement models, including Umbrella and CIS. If we’re your chosen payroll partner, rest assured that we’re dedicated to safeguarding your business’s best interests.

In a pre-Brexit era, the employment scenario was comparatively simple, with workers from the European Economic Area granted the privilege to work in the UK without a visa. However, even then, employers were obligated to conduct Right To Work checks. Post-Brexit, the paradigm has shifted – visa status has emerged as a pivotal consideration when checking the right to work of a potential candidate.

The legal imperative of Right To Work checks extends across the spectrum of UK employers. These checks represent a crucial prelude to hiring, designed to confirm an individual’s legal right to work here. Especially in sectors grappling with labour shortages, such as construction, these checks are instrumental in preserving the integrity of the workforce, given the multicultural tapestry of the modern labour market.

Each contractor we onboard traverses a stringent evaluation process that encompasses the submission of identity documentation. This enables us to ascertain their eligibility to work in the UK.

Additionally, compliance with the Construction Industry Scheme is scrutinised where relevant. This meticulous process is rooted in the understanding that any link in the labour supply chain may be subjected to investigation in case of rule breaches. This, aligning with a diligent payroll provider like Workwell assumes paramount importance.

Given the industries we operate in, characterised by weekly payroll runs, our onboarding processes are optimised for efficiency without compromising thoroughness. Contractors can seamlessly upload their documents via a secure RTW platform (Trust ID – a government-approved IDSP), which completes near real-time checks expediting the process. If any concerns arise regarding an individual’s working rights, they are promptly addressed.

A comprehensive review of documents including passports and visas underpins the verification process, substantiating an individual’s eligibility to work in the UK. Detailed records are maintained to ensure a watertight audit trail, should the need arise.

Beyond the realms of legal stipulations and potential repercussions, undertaking rigorous Right to Work checks communicates a potent message to your clients and prospects as it signifies your unyielding commitment to compliance, which helps to keep them safe too. Hence, delving into this aspect of your operation makes business sense. Understanding the nuances of compliance, educating your consultants, and upholding consistent adherence are all hallmarks of the way we work and support your good practices.

For a deeper dive into RTW checks, the Employers’ Guide to Right to Work checks serves as an invaluable resource. Additionally, our experienced team stands ready to provide any further information you may need. Together, let’s navigate the shifting tides of employment regulations, armed with knowledge and an unwavering commitment to compliance.

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