Considerate Constructors Scheme
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illegal workers

Spotlight on... illegal workers aims to increase understanding of the risk posed by illegal construction workers, and identify what can be done to tackle the problem...

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The campaign

‘Spotlight on… illegal workers’ aims to increase understanding of the risk posed by illegal construction workers, and identify what can be done to tackle the problem…

In recent years the construction industry has become increasingly associated with efforts to reduce illegal working and exploitation of unlawful labour in the UK. The issue of illegal workers is a difficult one, but it is essential that everyone involved in the construction industry is aware of the risks posed by such workers, the potential exploitation of illegal workers and how we can remedy the problem.

The Home Office provided this summary of illegal working:

Illegal working is undertaken by individuals who are subject to UK immigration control, and have either entered the UK illegally, overstayed their permission to be here, or have permission to be in the UK but are subject to a condition preventing them from working.

Illegal working is an urgent issue that requires attention, and employers have a role to play in its prevention. Since 1997, employers have had a duty to prevent illegal working. They have done so by carrying out simple specified document checks on prospective employees to determine if they have a right to work in the UK. An employer can receive a financial penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker employed. If prosecuted, they can now face up to five years in prison.

Using illegal labour is not a victimless crime. It can cause health and safety risks for everyone involved with a site, as well as affecting insurance if workers are not who they say they are or with the skills and knowledge they claim to have. Illegal working is linked to wider abuse and exploitation of workers, tax evasion and breach of other workplace regulations. At the worst end of the spectrum, it can involve modern slavery. It also negatively impacts on the wages of lawful workers and allows rogue employers to undercut legitimate businesses.

Construction is a particular target because it is an industry with a high demand for labour and where self employment is prevalent. There is currently a skills shortage, exacerbated by the recent recession and the often negative perception of the industry which puts people off pursuing a career in construction. In some cases, employing illegal workers may seem like a short-term fix for pressures on wages and filling the skills shortage, but the potential safety risks far outweigh any perceived benefit.

There are other remedies to construction’s challenges; the skills shortage could be addressed by improving the image of the industry, thereby attracting new talent. But the presence of illegal workers undermines efforts to improve the image of construction.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme flagged up the issue of illegal workers in its 2016 site Monitors’ Checklist under the ‘Value their Workforce’ section, asking in section 5.5: ‘How does the site assess and monitor the legitimacy and competency of the workforce?’ A prompt of ‘illegal workers’ was added to remind site managers of this important consideration. The issue has also been included in the supplementary ‘Site Specific Data’ section of the 2017 Monitors’ Checklist, which includes two additional questions for sites. They are:

  • Are there processes in place to ensure the subcontractors (and subsequent subcontractors) are conducting right to work checks?
  • Are physical spot checks conducted to ensure minimum standards of right to work checks are taking place within the supply chain?

Despite these changes, there is still a perception in the industry that not enough is being done. In order to gain a more up-to-date and direct representation of industry opinions on the issue of illegal workers, the Scheme gathered information through an industry survey in 2016. Over 550 participants responded, further evidence that the subject is a pressing issue. The following results were identified:

  • 93% agreed illegal working could be better tackled in the construction industry
  • 81% would say illegal working has been on the rise over the past 15 years
  • 61% admitted they have not received – or rarely receive – information on illegal working
  • 33% suspected a chance that illegal working had been present at a previous or current employer
  • 30% believed that health and safety was placed at greatest risk as a result of illegal working (mostly due to the potential language barrier)

The Scheme followed the survey with this ‘Spotlight on…’ campaign to raise awareness of illegal working.

Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Edward Hardy said:

“Ensuring the legitimacy of the workforce is one of the key challenges facing the construction industry today. The industry must work together to ensure that checks for workers’ legitimacy becomes firmly entrenched within all construction activity across the UK.

“By challenging sites to explore how they currently assess and monitor the legitimacy of their workforce, the Scheme believes that in the not-so-distant future, all registered sites, companies and suppliers will have robust procedures in place.

“The Scheme’s ‘Spotlight on…illegal workers’ campaign provides the industry with the ‘go to’ resource to fully understand how it can effectively tackle illegal working, and ultimately help to improve construction’s image and reputation.”

Illegal working is a key priority for the Government, which recognises the harm caused by illegal labour. The Home Office is committed to ensuring employers meet their statutory duty to prevent illegal working, and conduct the correct right to work checks. This was reinforced by a series of construction site spot checks as part of the Operation Magnify campaign in October 2015.

This was a wakeup call to the industry, and the Scheme has since partnered with the Home Office to provide guidance to construction professionals on how to stamp out illegal working.

The Home Office and CCS working together to tackle illegal working:

The Government is committed to tackling the economic motivation behind illegal migration, a key driver for which is the ability to work illegally. Employers have an important role in preventing illegal working, and Home Office Immigration Enforcement is committed to engagement and support for construction industry partners who want to ensure compliance.

As such, Immigration Enforcement is working with the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) to encourage greater compliance in tackling illegal working across the construction industry.

An important part of this successful collaboration has been the introduction of two new questions relating to Right to Work checks in the latest version of the CCS Monitors’ Checklist, launched in January 2017. The Checklist is the key means by which Scheme Monitors assess and score sites, companies and suppliers against the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice.

The Home Office has provided material to support this campaign, highlighting key facts and legislation around the topic of illegal working.

Employers’ duties to prevent illegal working:

Employers have an important role to play in ensuring that their employees have the right to work in the UK. They do this by undertaking a simple 3 step right to work check.

What are the consequences of employing illegal workers?

Those who employ illegal workers, without conducting the required checks, will be subject to robust sanctions which include:

  • Civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker
  • Criminal prosecution with an unlimited fine and/or a custodial sentence of up to 5 years
  • A new power to close business premises and impose a court compliance order to prevent illegal working
  • Disqualification of directors for lengthy periods

Illegal workers also face having their wages seized, and possible prosecution.

 

 

Law and legislation

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Law and legislation

The topic of illegal working is comprehensively covered by the law, and Government guidance is available for following these regulations...

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External resources

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External resources

There are a number of resources available and initiatives underway to tackle illegal working...

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Examples of best practice

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Examples of best practice

The Scheme aims to improve the image of construction through sharing best practice with the industry. Below are a number of best practice examples that have been either witnessed by the Scheme’s Monitors on their site visits or submitted by members of the industry themselves...

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Case studies

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Case studies

The following case studies provide a useful collection of important examples gathered from various sources including contractors, clients and organisations...

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What can you do?

It is essential that when hiring a new employee you conduct the correct right to work checks. It is the responsibility of the direct employer – which is often a subcontractor – to undertake these checks, but it is in the interests of the entire supply chain to ensure the legitimacy of the workforce. This ‘Spotlight on…’ campaign has already outlined the risks posed by illegal workers, the severe sanctions that can be brought against employers, as well as the consequences for site operations and the wider industry. The campaign has also provided links to useful resources to help sites end illegal working. Below is a summary of what you can do to tackle illegal working, drawing on advice provided to the Considerate Constructors Scheme by the Home Office.

 

Right to Work checks

Full guidance on conducting right to work checks is available in the ‘External resources’ section of this campaign.

The Home Office has provided this summary of a correct right to work check:

By conducting the correct right to work checks, as prescribed by the Home Office, an employer gets a defence – called a statutory excuse – against liability for a civil penalty.

The employer conducts a 3 step check:

  1. Obtain original document(s) specified in the published guidance e.g. a passport or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  1. Check the validity of the documents against the holder; and
  1. Retain copies of the documents and note the date on which the check was made.

The checks must be undertaken before their employee starts work, and if their immigration permission is time-limited they must check again when the permission comes to an end.

 

Who is responsible for conducting right to work checks?

Construction is particularly vulnerable to illegal working due to the fragmentation of the supply chain, leading to uncertainty over who is responsible for ensuring the legitimacy of the workforce.

On this matter, the Home Office says:

If you, as the employer, are contracting out specific jobs or services to individuals (contractors and sub-contractors), there is no requirement for you to conduct a right to work check because you are not the employer of those individuals. However, there are good reasons for you to establish that a right to work check has been conducted. It can cause disruption to your business operations and reputational damage when illegal workers are apprehended, as well as concerns about whether those workers have the knowledge and skills they said they have, and possible invalidation of your insurance.

It is therefore the responsibility of the direct employer to conduct the correct right to work checks. The liable party for any civil penalty is the individual/company/partnership etc. who is identified as employing the worker. The definition of employment under the law states that employment is a ‘contract of service (employment) or apprenticeship’. Therefore the party who engaged the illegal worker in a contract of employment would be liable for a penalty; you would not get multiple liable parties for an individual breach.

However, responsible contractors should send pre-contract questionnaires or declarations to their subcontractors to confirm that the subcontractor is ensuring the legitimacy of the workforce. The principal contractor will sometimes ask for copies of employees’ right to work documents (passports, BRPs etc.) and store them securely.

The fact that right to work checks are not the direct responsibility of principal contractors does not mean they are immune to the dangers of illegal working. The presence of illegal working on a principal contractor’s site could disrupt the project and severely damage the reputation of the company, curtailing their chances of securing new contracts, as well as having a detrimental effect on the image of the entire industry.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme expects site managers to be able to explain the process involved in checking the legitimacy of their workforce.

 

Acceptable right to work documents (excluding National Insurance or CSCS cards)

A full guide to acceptable right to work documents can be found in the ‘External resources’ section of this campaign. Crucially, all construction professionals must be aware that National Insurance Numbers by themselves, and CSCS cards are not evidence of right to work.

Regarding National Insurance Numbers, the Home Office says:

A National Insurance number (NINo) will not by itself demonstrate a right to work. Not all NINo holders will be allowed to work in the UK and if they can work, they may be subject to conditions. You must check acceptable documents showing the NINo and name of the holder together with one of the combinations specified in the acceptable document lists.

On CSCS cards, the Home Office states:

A card issued under the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) will not demonstrate a right to work. Nor does it confirm whether an immigration check has been undertaken on the individual.

CSCS cards issued since August 2016 carry the statement ‘Cards issued by CSCS do not confirm the holder’s right to work in the UK’.

One form of right to work documentation is a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

The Home Office outlines a BRP as follows:

The BRP is a secure immigration document. It provides a simple and secure means to conduct a right to work check. If you think someone should hold a BRP, ask to see it. The Home Office has issued more than 3 million BRPs since 2008. Since August 2015, this is the only document issued to all applicants who are granted leave of more than 6 months.

Having a NINo does not mean someone has the right to work in the UK. The Home Office and Department of Work and Pensions are aligning the issuing processes for a BRP and NINo so that non-European Economic Area nationals with permission to work in the UK will have their NINo printed on their BRP.

 

Conducting spot checks

On larger sites of longer duration, contractors should ask subcontractors to check that the right to work information they hold is still current. Many workers have time-limited eligibility to work in the UK and employers are required to carry out follow up checks at the end of the worker’s period of leave.

If the Home Office identifies a worker whose right to work has expired, employers face a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker, or prosecution if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that the person is not eligible to work.

 

Employer’s statutory excuse

Conducting correct right to work checks and abiding by Home Office guidelines provides an employer with a legal defence (statutory excuse) against liability for a civil penalty.

The Home Office outlines when an employer does not have a statutory excuse:

  • You have not conducted the prescribed right to work checks before employment commenced;
  • You have accepted a document which clearly does not belong to the holder;
  • You have accepted a document which clearly shows the person does not have the right to work/stay in the UK and/or do the job in question, for example a student who has restrictions on the number of hours that they are allowed to work in term time and they are working in excess of these hours;
  • The endorsement demonstrating work entitlement or the BRP has expired;
  • You know you are employing someone who is not allowed to work in the UK, regardless of whether you have carried out checks;
  • Your statutory excuse has expired; or
  • You have not detected a ‘reasonably’ apparent counterfeit document(s).

Mitigation

If you tell the Home Office about an illegal worker before they find out and you further co-operate, the size of any penalty will be significantly reduced. If you pay it quickly, it will be further reduced by 30%. To notify the Home Office of illegal workers, you should contact the Home Office helpline on 0300 123 4699. You will receive a unique reference number which will be used in the event you are liable for a civil penalty.

 

What operatives can do

The majority of guidance in this campaign is aimed at site management, but operatives must also remain vigilant against illegal working to end this harmful practice. We do not seek to create a climate of suspicion and policing on site, but only ask that all construction professionals be aware of the issue of illegal working.

Sites should encourage operatives to raise any concerns they have about illegal workers during the induction process. By implementing an open door policy and conducting toolbox talks on the issue, sites will create an environment where operatives feel comfortable discussing the issue of illegal workers.

 

Home Office contacts:

To notify the Home Office of illegal workers, you should contact the Home Office Sponsorship, Employer and Education helpline on 0300 123 4699 (Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5pm, Friday, 9am to 4:30pm). You will receive a unique reference number which will be used in the event you are liable for a civil penalty.

If you identify illegal workers or those who do not have a right to work in the UK during the recruitment process, tell the Home Office about them using the ‘report an immigration crime’ mechanism on gov.uk by clicking here.

To complement the free support already available, the Home Office has developed an enhanced immigration training service charged at full cost recovery and not for profit. Further enquiries can be made at IECheckingAdviceService@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

 

As well as the information provided above, it is also advised to visit the ‘External resources’ section, which offers guidance and information from other organisations and companies that cover the full spectrum of the topic.

 

The Scheme will continue to update this page as new examples and case studies of how the industry is tackling illegal workers are identified. If you would like to share how your company is addressing this issue, please contact the Scheme by emailing enquiries@ccsbestpractice.org.uk.
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Examples of best practice

The Scheme aims to improve the image of construction through sharing best practice with the industry. Below are a number of best practice examples that have been either witnessed by the Scheme’s Monitors on their site visits or submitted by members of the industry themselves…

Illegal worker checks

Published 1 June 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Illegal workers Spot checks
CategoriesIllegal workers Spot checks

Illegal working is one of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry. There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the process of checking a prospective employee’s right to work, but it is essential that sites are aware that the correct processes are in place. Even if the main contractor is not legally responsible for ensuring right to work, as…

UK Modern Slavery Act e-learning

Published 12 May 2017 | No comments
Written by James Low
Categories E-learning Illegal workers Training
CategoriesE-learning Illegal workers Training

The UK’s Modern Slavery Act requires companies to demonstrate the actions being taken to ensure that modern slavery is not occurring within the supply chain. Every year they must produce a statement that quantifies the activities we have undertaken to help meet this objective. At Mace we have developed our policies in response to this legislation and begun taking positive…

Spotlight on… campaign posters

Published 17 March 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Campaigns Drugs and alcohol policy Illegal workers Occupational health risks Posters Scheme posters/banners Workforce information
CategoriesAlcohol testing Campaigns Drugs and alcohol policy Illegal workers Occupational health risks Posters Scheme posters/banners Workforce information

Spotlight on… posters have been designed for general display in and around site welfare facilities. The Scheme is currently developing a collection of A3 posters from the series of ‘Spotlight on… ‘ awareness campaigns. This resource has proven valuable for display on site and raising awareness amongst the workforce and visitors.  

Right to work checks on-site

Published 12 January 2017 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Illegal workers
CategoriesIllegal workers

It is crucial that each and every site ensures their workforce is legitimate, as illegal workers pose a grave risk to the construction industry as a whole. Not only can the presence of illegal workers pose a health and safety risk on site, but employing workers who are not eligible to work in the U.K. carries hefty penalties. The example…

CITB anti-slavery programme

Published 9 December 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Illegal workers Training
CategoriesIllegal workers Training

CITB’s new initiative is tackling modern day slavery in the construction industry. Funding will be used to help construction firms and the supply chain to identify illegal workers and trafficking activities through a series of ‘Right to Work’ training videos. According to the Home Office, 53 potential victims of trafficking into construction were referred to the authorities in 2013, but…

Employer’s guide to right to work checks

Published 29 November 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Illegal workers
CategoriesIllegal workers

Illegal working often results in abusive and exploitative behaviour, the mistreatment of illegal migrant workers, tax evasion and poor housing conditions. It can also undercut legitimate businesses and have an adverse impact on the employment of people who are lawfully in the UK. Under section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (the 2006 Act), an employer may…

Anti-Slavery Day

Published 29 November 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Illegal workers Management attitudes
CategoriesIllegal workers Management attitudes

Anti-Slavery Day was created in 2010 by a Private Members Bill. Since then it has grown significantly and each year more and more charities, individuals, local authorities and police forces take action to mark Anti-Slavery Day. This day is focused on raising awareness of modern slavery and to inspire government, business and individuals to eliminate it. To support Anti-Slavery Day on your site,…

BRE Ethical Labour Sourcing Standard

Published 4 November 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Illegal workers Management attitudes Supply chain Trade contractors
CategoriesIllegal workers Management attitudes Supply chain Trade contractors

Since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, organisations legally affected (turnover of more than £36m) have been seeking guidance and legal opinion on how best to respond. Whilst many companies have prepared and issued the required statements, many are not meeting the requirements and some have not really grasped the intent of the Act. No organisation in the world…

Sustainability Moments

Published 30 June 2016 | No comments
Written by James Low
Categories Consultation Illegal workers Spot checks Trade contractors Training
CategoriesConsultation Illegal workers Spot checks Trade contractors Training

Mace have been holding Sustainability Moments at the start of a meeting, as a great way to remind colleagues of the importance of sustainability whether you are on site or in an office. The meeting does not have to be sustainability related, and their use outside this subject is encouraged. The short introduction offers a moment to communicate and reflect…

Spotlight on… campaign flyers

Published 22 June 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Alcohol testing Apprenticeships Campaigns Communication Cycle safety Health screening Healthy lifestyle advice Illegal workers Inappropriate language Medications Mental health Occupational health risks Posters
CategoriesAlcohol testing Apprenticeships Campaigns Communication Cycle safety Health screening Healthy lifestyle advice Illegal workers Inappropriate language Medications Mental health Occupational health risks Posters

The Spotlight on… flyers have been designed for general display in and around site welfare facilities. The Scheme provides a collection of A5 flyers from both past and current ‘Spotlight on… ‘ awareness campaigns. Each unique flyer contains information on the industry issue and advice on how to tackle it. This resource has proven valuable for display on site and raising awareness…

Right to work

Published 24 May 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Employed Illegal workers Spot checks
CategoriesEmployed Illegal workers Spot checks

Ensuring a legal and legitimate workforce is essential in maintaining safety on-site. It is important to screen future employees before they are contracted to work on a project as well as performing routine spot checks. Ensuring a legitimate workforce is not only a legal responsibility but also a health and safety concern too. One contractor maintained regulation through the following…

Modern slavery and ethical sourcing

Published 12 May 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Equality Illegal workers Supply chain
CategoriesEquality Illegal workers Supply chain

Ethical sourcing is a term that is becoming more and more prominent as governments and organisations strive to create a more global, equal and fair working environment. The focus is to ensure products are being sourced from environments where workers are treated well, paid well and working in respectable conditions. In the construction industry, we must be aware of any…

Monitoring the legitimacy of the workforce

Published 28 April 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Employed Illegal workers Spot checks Supply chain Trade contractors
CategoriesEmployed Illegal workers Spot checks Supply chain Trade contractors

In order to maintain high levels of safety and legal regulation, the industry must monitor the legitimacy of its workforce. The following procedures and checks should be in place to monitor the workforce: There should be a process in place to check the legitimacy of the workforce either before arrival on site or upon arrival, with spot checks as necessary,…

Spotting the warning signs of modern slavery

Published 11 April 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Disadvantaged groups Illegal workers Management attitudes Spot checks
CategoriesDisadvantaged groups Illegal workers Management attitudes Spot checks

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced or compulsory labour and domestic servitude. In March 2015, the Modern Slavery Act was introduced by the UK government to give protection to victims and hand-down harsh penalties to offenders, who now face up to life imprisonment if they are convicted of modern slavery offences. Individuals working in the country illegally due to…

Using spot checks to prevent illegal working

Published 14 January 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Illegal workers Management attitudes Spot checks
CategoriesIllegal workers Management attitudes Spot checks

Individuals working in the country illegally due to their immigration status will often be victims of abuse and exploitations or caught in a situation now defined as modern slavery. Spot checks can be made to make sure as far as possible that everyone working on your site is doing so legally. The Home Office’s recommended “Right to Work” checks, is a…

Modern slavery in construction

Published 12 January 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Equality Illegal workers Management attitudes Spot checks
CategoriesEquality Illegal workers Management attitudes Spot checks

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced or compulsory labour and domestic servitude. In March 2015, the Modern Slavery Act was introduced by the UK government to give protection to victims and hand down harsh penalties to offenders, who now face up to life imprisonment if they are convicted of modern slavery offences. The National Crime Agency’s latest strategic assessment listed…

Illegal workers in construction

Published 11 January 2016 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Illegal workers Management attitudes Spot checks
CategoriesIllegal workers Management attitudes Spot checks

Government agencies led by the Home Office and the Immigration Minister James Brokenshire have launched Operation Magnify, a campaign supported by CIOB. Operation Magnify is a rolling programme of site enforcement visits targeting illegal workers in the construction industry, and raising the issue on the industry’s agenda. Construction is an area of focus in efforts to reduce illegal immigration and…

Workers legally allowed to work in UK

Published 2 December 2015 | No comments
Written by CCS Best Practice Hub Administrator
Categories Employed Illegal workers Spot checks
CategoriesEmployed Illegal workers Spot checks

Employers are expected to carry out checks to ensure that people on their sites are legally able to work in the UK.  Employers should be implementing the following process: Obtain original versions of the various documents allowed/required, which would often include a passport; Check all of the documents validity in front of the person concerned; Make and retain copies of the various…

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Case studies

The following case studies provide a useful collection of important examples gathered from various sources including contractors, clients and organisations…

Contractors

Berkeley Group presents their new starters with induction forms that support the proper right to work checks and help identify any illegitimate employability details. To find out more, click here.
Crossrail Limited outlines their pre-employment checks in place to eliminate illegal working in the industry. For more details, click here.

 

FP McCann introduces their slavery and human trafficking policy statement, outlining a thorough system to confront illegal working. To find out more, click here.

 

Northern Gas Networks explains how its sites are taking a proactive approach to dealing with the issue of illegal workers by making robust checks to verify workers’ legitimacy. For more details, click here.
Willmott Dixon outlines how they ensure the correct right to work checks are conducted, and explain their CITB-funded training videos on the issue of illegal workers. To find out more, click here. To watch the videos, click here.

Organisations

Passport Authentication Check Limited (PpAC) provides an overview of their passport authentication checking system, as well as the importance of legitimate right to work checks. To find out more, click here.

Close law and legislation

Law and legislation

The topic of illegal working is comprehensively covered by the law and Government guidance is available for following these regulations…

Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006

The Act states employers may be liable for a civil penalty if they employ someone who does not have the right to undertake the work in question. Employers can avoid liability (and obtain a ‘statutory excuse’) by carrying out prescribed document checks on people before employing them to ensure they are lawfully allowed to work. These checks should be repeated in respect of those who have time-limited permission to work in the UK.

The Government’s full guide for employers on preventing illegal working in the UK can be found here.

Modern Slavery Act 2015

The Act deals with matters relating to slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Section 54 of the Act requires every commercial organisation carrying on business in the UK, with a total annual turnover of £36m or more, to produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation. This statement must set out the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in their own business and supply chains.

For the Government’s practical guide on producing this statement click here.

Immigration Act 2016

The Act introduces new sanctions on illegal workers and rogue employers, and prevents illegal migrants accessing services.

The Immigration Act 2016 was also used to tackle labour market exploitation. It created a new role of Director of Labour Market Enforcement (LME) to bring better strategic focus, priority setting and co-ordination to the enforcement of labour market legislation undertaken by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, National Minimum Wage enforcement and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

For the Government’s Immigration Act 2016 fact and FAQ sheet click here.

The Home Office emphasises that construction professionals should pay close attention to the latest legislation tackling illegal working:

The Government has implemented a wide range of measures to remove the economic incentive to come to the UK illegally, and the practical means for illegal migrants to remain here. This includes taking action in the Immigration Acts 2014 and 2016.

Specifically, the Home Office introduced new measures on illegal workers and rogue employers to:

  • Provide better co-ordination of labour market regulations and enforcement of workers’ rights.
  • Make it easier to prosecute employers of illegal workers, with an increased maximum custodial sentence.
  • Close business premises and impose a court compliance order to prevent illegal working.
  • Seize wages resulting from illegal working, as the proceeds of crime.
Close External resources

External resources

There are a number of resources available and initiatives underway to tackle illegal working…

Home Office resources

The Home Office provides a number of free online resources to help employers conduct a right to work check on all new employees. Below is a selection of guidance on the right to work procedure:

  • Carrying out a right to work check: a 3-step guide. To download this guide, click here.
  • ‘How to make a right to work check’ video. To watch this video, click here.
  • An employer’s guide to right to work checks. To read this guide, click here.
  • Full guidance notes on right to work checks. To read these instructions, click here.
  • An employer’s guide to acceptable right to work documents. To read this guide, click here.
  • Guidance on examining identity documents and forgery detection (2016). To download this guide, click here.
  • Illegal working Q+A for employers. To read this document, click here.
  • ‘Demolish slavery in construction’ poster highlights the presence of modern slavery on construction sites. To access the poster, click here.

Home Office initiatives

  • The Home Office is dealing with illegal workers in the construction industry through Operation Magnify – its campaign to stamp out illegal working by targeting specific ‘risk’ industries. Read more here.
  • The Home Office arrested 257 individuals at construction sites in October 2015 as part of the ongoing Operation Magnify campaign. Enforcement operations focused on illegal working in construction sites, visiting 69 sites and businesses as part of Operation Magnify. Find out more information here.

What is currently being done by the industry?

  • The Considerate Constructors Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice consists of five sections. The ‘Value their Workforce’ section emphasises that constructors should provide a supportive and caring working environment and Scheme Monitors assess how well a site ensures the legitimacy of their workforce.
  • The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has produced a toolkit for tackling modern slavery in construction, in conjunction with Stronger Together (a nationwide initiative that provides training, resources and support for businesses that are looking to better tackle illegal working.) To find out more about the partnership, click here. To view a short film produced by the campaign telling a story of modern slavery, click here. To access the toolkit, click here.
  • The CIOB has produced a study that explores the issue of illegal working, modern slavery and human rights within the construction industry. Modern Slavery: The Dark Side of Construction examines the problems associated with cheap migrant labour workforces through case studies in Abu Dhabi, New York and Qatar. To read this study, click here.
  • CIOB has also written an article focusing on the Government’s recent approach to combating illegal working on construction sites: Operation Magnify. To read this article, click here.
  • An article from October 2016 outlines how Barratt Developments are confronting illegal working and modern slavery through the introduction of a dedicated whistleblower hotline for its workforce. To find out more, click here.
  • The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) launched a new initiative which challenges modern slavery in the construction industry. A funding programme will help construction firms and the supply chain to identify illegal workers and trafficking activities through a series of right to work training videos, led by Willmott Dixon. To find out more, click here.
  • The Construction Industry Council (CIC) is the representative forum for the professional bodies, research organisations and specialist business associations in the construction industry. CIC outlines the Immigration Act 2016’s illegal working provisions and provides links to the legislation and illegal working penalties in this article.
  • The National Building Specification (NBS) has produced an article which explores the issue of illegal workers in construction: Human trafficking, Operation Magnify, and the skills shortage. To read this article, click here.
  • Build UK has issued a guidance note for preventing illegal working in the construction industry. To read this document, click here.
  • The Supply Chain Sustainability School has produced a guidance document for how companies should map their supply chain to prevent modern slavery in the construction industry: Supply Chain Sustainability Procurement Guidance – How to embed best practice in your procurement when combating modern slavery. To read the guide, click here.

Other useful resources

  • Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides advice on employing migrant workers and keeping employers on the right side of both immigration regulations and employment law. Acas holds regular training events giving a practical introduction to employing people. Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information and find a list of upcoming events here.
  • Rightcheck is an app-based solution to ensuring compliance with right to work checks. The app validates supporting documentation and securely stores digital copies of said documentation. Read Rightcheck’s outline of right to work compliance here, and find out more about the app here.
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