Recruiters hit with £12m in Border Agency fines

Recruitment agencies and employers have been hit with £12million in fines in the past year for failing to carry out adequate checks to verify job candidates’ right to work in the UK, official records reveal.

Released under freedom of information rules, the records show a total of 6,953 Notification of Liability notices with a value of £55.3m were issued by the Borders Agency since the new system’s launch in 2008.

Introduced in February of that year, the system gave the Home Office-run agency the power to issue civil penalties of up to £10,000 to employers for every candidate found to be working illegally.

However the level of fine varies according to whether suitable eligibility checks – such as verifying right work by checking passports – have been carried out during the recruitment process.

“The compliance burden on employers and recruiters can be extremely high, particularly as many of them still rely on manual, paper-based identity checks, which are costly to administer and prone to error,” said Giant, which obtained the official records.

“With unemployment high and immigration a burning political issue, employers and recruiters need to make doubly sure that candidates are fully vetted.”

Giant’s managing director Matthew Brown added: “Putting in place processes and systems to streamline background checking will be prohibitively expensive for the majority of employers and recruiters.

“The damage – not just financial but reputational – of putting forward or employing an illegal candidate can be considerable, yet most checking is still fairly basic and haphazard despite the tougher penalties.”

According to the Borders Agency, to avoid the risk of a fine, an employer must ask for and take copies of “original, acceptable documents showing that the holder is allowed to work, before employing them.”

The employer must also be satisfied that the documents presented are genuine and that the person presenting them is both the rightful holder and allowed to do the type of work on offer. Repeat checks must be carried out at least once every 12 months, where the candidate in their employ has a time limit on their stay.

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