Immigration Rules for Schools and Academies

Do you know how the immigration rules for Schools and Academies impact working practices?

On Wednesday 14th May 2014 the Immigration Act 2014 received Royal Assent. While the key focus of the legislation is to bring about significant changes to the current immigration system, there are changes that impact on employers including, potentially, schools and academies. These include:

  • changes to the civil penalties for employing individuals illegally
  • the process of appeal against any penalties that are imposed, and
  • actions resulting from the failure to pay.

Under the Immigration (Employment of Adults Subject to Immigration Control) (Maximum Penalty) (Amendment) Order 2014, the maximum penalty for illegally employing individuals who do not have the right to work in the UK has been increased. From Friday 16th May 2014 the maximum fine that can be imposed has risen from £10,000 to £20,000 per illegal worker.

The Immigration (Restrictions on Employment) (Codes of Practice and Amendment) Order 2014 also came into force on Friday 16th May 2014. The impact for employers is that two new statutory codes of practice are now in place that relate to:

  • preventing illegal working, and
  • avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working.

Preventing Illegal Working

This code applies to anyone who took up employment on or after Friday 16th May 2014. The main effect is that it reduces the range of documents that the Home Office will accept when carrying out right to work checks. It is important for any employer to ensure that staff carrying out such checks on their behalf are now familiar with the revised list as contained within the code (pages 8–10). The other main aspect of the code is that it sets out quite clearly the factors that the Home Office will consider when determining the financial penalties to impose on those found guilty of employing illegal workers.

Avoiding Unlawful Discrimination While Preventing Illegal Working

This code gives guidance to potential employers with regard to avoiding accusations of discrimination when carrying out pre-employment checks. The code recommends that checks are carried out on all prospective employees regardless of issues such as ethnicity or accent. As a matter of best practice, it also advises employers to have transparent written procedures for recruitment and selection based on the principles of equality and fairness in the treatment of all candidates.

Our recommendation is that school-based staff who undertake such verification processes should check current policy and procedures against the new codes of practice to ensure that they remain compliant.

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