In July Byron the burger chain hit the headlines when accused of gathering together staff on the pretext of a training session for the Home Office to then arrest the staff.

It is important to emphasise that the Home Office stress that Byron had been fully compliant the law: they had done the correct right to work checks but the Home Office received some intelligence that the staff were providing false documentation. As far as I can see the employer just complied with what it was asked to do by the authorities in gathering the staff together on one site: once the Home Office had informed them that the paperwork they had relied on was false Byron had little option but to cooperate or face fines.

There has recently been a tightening of the legislation – now an employer doesn’t have to ‘knowingly’ employ someone illegal – they are guilty if they have ‘reasonable cause’ to believe they are employing someone illegally. It has always been the case that employers who have solid policies in place for ¬†checking right to work documentation will be in a strong place to defend their case if they are found to be employing someone illegal. You aren’t expected to be forgery experts ¬†– unless documentation is clearly fake you aren’t going to be expected to spot if it is forged.

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