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HR Tip: Employing EU nationals

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.


Q: We recently engaged three men from Poland to do work in our factory. Poland recently joined the European Union so we assumed that we did not have to carry out employment verification checks. However somebody has informed us that we are breaking the law because we should have checked their eligibility to work. What is the law and how do we stand?

A: The Asylum and Immigration Act does indeed make it unlawful for you to employ people who do not have the right to work in the UK, and the fine is £5,000 per illegal immigrant. Citizens of the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have the right to enter the UK and take up employment without having to obtain permission. However for a few years the government wishes to keep a check on citizens of eight of the ten states that joined the EU in May 2004.

Those states are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Their citizens are entitled to take up employment in the UK but must register with the Home Office as soon as they start work and the responsibility for them doing so rests with you. If you have not instigated the registration process within 30 days you could face a £5,000 fine. Follow this procedure to avoid this:

  • Ensure that the workers are Polish citizens by performing a document check. Their passports or identity cards should be sufficient proof.
  • Ensure that the documents are genuine.
  • Photocopy and retain the front page of each passport and any pages which contain a photograph, signature, authorising stamp and any personal descriptions such as age and height.
  • Be certain that any photograph and/or descriptions match the worker in question.

(At this point the people can start working for you)

  • Arrange for each worker to complete an application form for registration.
  • Take and retain a copy of the completed form.
  • Give each worker either a copy of the employment contract or a letter confirming that they work for you.
  • Ask them to send the completed form and the proof of employment to the Home Office.
  • Retain the registration certificate that the Home Office returns to you.

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Annie Hayes

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