Employing Foreign Workers in UK Businesses

If your UK business is looking to employ foreign workers our expert business immigration solicitors can help.

With the extensive immigration and employment training programs, audit and compliance services from AWH Solicitors you can be assured that your business is fully compliant with UK law on employing foreigners.

Bringing in Knowledge and Cultural Diversity

Many UK firms value workers from overseas due to the knowledge and skills they can bring.

Employing foreign workers that will be moving to England from other countries can offer information and knowledge which benefits the creativity, innovation and productivity of an organisation.

Penalties for Employing Foreign Workers without Right to Work

There are rules and regulations to follow when employing foreign workers which all companies should be aware of to avoid potentially breaking the law.

Penalties for breaking the law in regards to the employment of foreign workers are severe. Fines are unlimited and if it can be proven that the employer was aware of employees not having the right to work that employer could even face time in prison for up to five years.

Avoid these penalties and work with AWH Solicitors to ensure you are fully compliant with UK laws.

Non-EU and European Foreign Workers

It is crucial to ensure that proper checks are carried out before employing a staff member from overseas.

Organisations should keep up to date with all changes to UK immigration policies concerning employing non-EU workers, as well as the changes Brexit will bring.

Employers should also ensure that overseas workers receive an induction and orientation to allow the individual to settle into the new culture well and contribute to the organisation.

  • Benefits and risks of employing foreign workers

    Organisations might decide that a foreign worker can benefit their organisation for several reasons:

    • To perform jobs requiring specialist skills which are not available in the UK, such as technical or language skills
    • To fill unskilled or low skilled vacancies due to labour shortages
    • To facilitate secondments and transfers from an overseas division, introducing new ideas into the UK branch of the UK organisation
    • To fill vacancies that the government agrees are in designated ‘shortage occupations’

    Businesses should also consider the potential risks:

    • Certain workers must meet a required standard of English language skills
    • There might be cultural differences between your existing staff and foreign workers and your organisation will need to adapt. Inductions and orientations are a good way to do this.
    • Employers can face fines for not complying with the relevant laws
  • The law on employing overseas workers

    The majority of overseas workers in the UK come from other EU or EEA countries and therefore do not require a work permit, sponsorship or other clearance to live and work in the UK. However, depending on the results of Brexit this will likely change.

    Workers arriving from outside the EU are assessed using a points based system, and have to score a certain number of points to obtain a visa to live and work in the UK. There are five tiers, each one requiring a different number of points:

    • Tier 1 – Highly skilled individuals
    • Tier 2 – Skilled workers with a job offer
    • Tier 3 – Low skilled workers for temporary labour shortages
    • Tier 4 – Students
    • Tier 5 – Youth mobility and temporary workers: those with primarily non-economic objectives

    Workers in tiers 2 – 5 must be sponsored by an employer (or institute of higher education in the case of Tier 4) to work in the UK.

    Only employers who are registered and licensed by the Home Office can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, and to obtain one they must undertake a strict verification exercises.

    Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, it is a criminal offence to knowingly employ a worker who is not legally allowed to work in the UK.  Negligently recruiting a worker from overseas can incur a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

    The fines for breaking these regulations could have huge consequences for your organisation. Don’t take the risk of employing a worker from overseas without making sufficient checks first.

  • How Brexit could affect hiring European citizens

    Currently, EEA and Swiss citizens can still work and live in the UK without a permit or visa, and enjoy the same rights as British citizens with regards to work. Employers are obliged to treat European workers equally to British workers as not doing so would be considered to be discrimination. These rights are set to stay unchanged until December of 2020.

    EEA workers can currently freely move around the UK, bring their relatives and settle down. After five years of living in the UK these families have the right to apply for permanent residence, and after six years they could also apply for citizenship.

    Permanent residence

    Overseas workers that can apply for permanent residence or citizenship are advised to do so if they are from the EEA or Switzerland, as uncertainty regarding the rights of these workers continues and Brexit negotiations are still ongoing.

    Our expert immigration solicitors can advise and guide individuals going through the naturalisation process.

    Post-Brexit announcement on EEA citizens

    In June 2018 the government announced some clarity on a possible post-Brexit scheme for foreign workers of the affected European countries.

    It is likely that European citizens who have lived and worked in the UK for five or more years will be able to easily apply for indefinite leave to live and work, so they can continue their lives as normal. Those who moved to the UK prior to December 2020 would in this case be granted a "pre-settled status", meaning they would enjoy the same rights as settled workers and can apply for permanent residence after five continuous years of living in the UK.

    Application fees for adults has been said to be set at £65, while applications for children will cost £32.50.

    These rights are not finalised and many changes can still be made before a final deal is reached.

    The application process will likely be through an online portal, assuring the process is quick and easy. With 3.8 million due to be affected by Brexit foreign workers currently in the UK, process times could still be extensive.

    How will employers be affected

    Employers recruiting overseas workers from EEA countries can continue as normal until December 2020.

    Depending on the number of foreign workers a business recruits, how much staff turn over would be expected and how often the business looks at recruiting they will benefit from streamlined immigration processes and dedicated immigration solicitors to ensure all recruitment processes are compliant.

    Our immigration solicitors are here to offer advise and support to businesses currently recruiting non-EEA foreign workers and businesses who are likely to be recruiting EEA workers after December 2020.

    Right to work checks, visa applications, intra-company transfers and compliance and audit services can all be managed easily and without a hassle to your business. Contact us today for your consultation with our business immigration solicitors.

Obtaining your Sponsorship Licence

Firstly, you will need to know if you are eligible for a sponsorship licence.

A business must not have any unspent criminal convictions. Criminal convictions include immigration offences and other violations such as money laundering.

If your business has previously sponsored foreign employees and you were found to have failed to carry out your sponsorship duties you likely won’t be eligible to apply for a new licence.

Applying for a Sponsorship Licence

If you meet the eligibility criteria as outlined above you can apply for a sponsorship licence, which will grant you a licence rating and allow you to hold your sponsorship licence for up to four years.

There are two types of licences you can apply for:

  • Tier 2 – skilled workers (for employing long term workers)
  • Tier 5 – skilled temporary workers (for employing short term workers)

Using AWH Solicitors for assistance with employing foreign workers

AWH Solicitors can help your organisation make the process of employing individual workers or groups of workers easy and pain-free.

Our team is made up of expert immigration solicitors, HR experts and employment law solicitors who can see you through the sponsorship application, licence management and work checks.

Whether you are taking on a worker from an international location under secondment, employing a EU worker, or require assistance employing someone from further afield, our experts have an unrivalled knowledge and will help you avoid any potential pitfalls.

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