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As a business owner, do you check ALL of your employees?


Imagine this. You run a successful business, your local reputation is positive, your team is growing and you’ve been able to secure talented resource from overseas. As well as retaining this talent for some years, you are proud of the experience you have furnished them with, and have enjoyed both their contribution to your business, and the diversity of your team. Then, one morning, two gentlemen with stern faces show up at your office from the UK Visas and Immigration (previously UK Border Agency).


The first thing you need to realise is that your entire day is now cancelled! That important client meeting where you hoped to close a deal, that important employee performance meeting, that lunch with your wife, husband or friend, all of these will need to be mothballed.


Why? Because you are now entering an interview and audit of at least a 5 hours. This is not to be sniffed at: it’s serious stuff and it’s important to get it right.


Why me? In our experience, the two main reasons that businesses may receive a call from the UK Visas and Immigration are that they have either been randomly flagged up for audit or the authorities have been tipped off.


What happens? You may be asked to provide your company financial records, lease agreements, pay arrangements, employee data, records for starters and leavers and personnel files. You will also be interviewed about the process you underwent to secure your talent and, should you have failed to meet your obligations in terms of determining your employees’ right to work in the UK, then you may be subject to a fine of up to £20k per illegal employee, and an improvement plan.


Some of the best performing teams are rich with a range of academic and non-academic resumés, religious beliefs, backgrounds and languages. It doesn’t mean that you need to miss out, but you do need to ensure that you comply with your obligations as a UK employer. These obligations are as important as your health and safety, tax or VAT responsibilities. To do so means you not only benefit from the right talent but you will feel at ease if and when you have a visit. It then becomes an interesting diary entry rather than a blot on your company reputation or a dent on your balance sheet.


What to do? The process is well documented – there is lots of helpful information on the Government website to help you determine the process for any non-British citizen for example. But there is little tolerance for ignorance or avoidance, so it’s worth consulting with a specialist to ensure you know and meet your obligations.


Here are three simple but key employment steps from the team at HW Human Resources:


  1. Ensure you carry out eligibility to work checks for all employees
  2. Consult a specialist to support you through any visa obligations
  3. Keep records of every step.


And, remember, all potential employees are required to provide evidence of their entitlement to work in the UK, not just those subject immigration control.


For more information or for your HR Health check please feel free to contact HW Human Resources on 01604 746760.

Want to know more? Call us on 01536 483513 or email

About the author

Alexandra Garner

Alex is director of HW Human Resources, a division of Haines Watts providing a hands-on HR service to support the complex nature of employee management and people strategy.

Alex leads a team of established HR experts who provide an end to end HR service from HR basics and compliance right through to innovative, leading edge and business focused HR strategic solutions, giving our clients the benefit of a breadth of HR knowledge and peace of mind.

Alex is a pragmatic HR professional with over 16 years’ experience, starting her career in recruitment through to her current role as strategic business partner. She holds an excellent track record for developing people strategies that align with a company’s overall business goals and has worked across multiple sectors including leisure, retail, IT, telecoms and professional services.

Alex is a firm believer that any HR change or project, regardless of size, must contribute to the future success of your business. Helping businesses to grow their teams and make the right decisions around their people is key to their success and the HR team at Haines Watts pride themselves on being able to deliver what can be a jargon-filled business area with clarity and efficiency.

Alex is a high-energy individual who seeks to achieve goals in every aspect of her life. Personal interests include weight training and snowboarding as well as a keen interest in food and wine.

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