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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