Employing migrant workers


Liam Byrne, MP for Imigration

The UK is part of a competitive global economy. We want people with skills and talents we can use to come in a managed way and contribute to our economy. We want people to be able to visit this country and feel welcome and secure.

Legal migrants from around the world make a substantial contribution to our society, both in terms of wealth creation and in the delivery of frontline services. They contribute to the strength and diversity of our culture. At the same time we must discourage those who would seek to find work illegally from coming here in the first instance. We need to ensure that everyone plays by the rules and that any companies that try to steal an unfair competitive advantage through employing illegal migrants are dealt with.

That is why we are introducing a simpler, clearer and more selective points-based system for managing migration along with biometric residence permits for foreign nationals in 2008.

This system will ensure that Britain attracts the skilled labour force it needs to perform key jobs , whilst requiring migrant workers to develop their English language skills to ease their integration into British society.

We must also take action to tackle the problem of illegal migrant working and its harmful social and economic consequences. Illegal working undermines the National Minimum Wage and allows unscrupulous employers to gain an unfair competitive advantage over legitimate businesses. For the illegal workers themselves, it often leads to exploitation and poor health and safety. In the worst cases, it involves people putting their lives at risk.

For these reasons, it is a criminal offence to employ someone who is not entitled to work in the United Kingdom. You can get an unlimited fine if you do so. So it's in your interest to make the right checks.

Our aim is to strengthen these controls by introducing civil penalties for employers who negligently employ illegal workers and a criminal offence for those employers who do so knowingly.

We know it is difficult sometimes for legitimate employers to comply with these legal obligations.

We also know that it is a complex issue and there is no such thing as a typical illegal worker. But we strongly believe that employers should share with us the social responsibility for confronting illegal working. It will be better for you and your company, and for the UK economy if we work together.

This is why we have developed this website. We want to help you operate within the law.

We hope you will find this toolkit useful.

Liam Byrne


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