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Illegal immigrant found working in Commons

The Times has revealed today that a woman from Sierra Leone has been working in the Palace of Westminster under a forged passport. With all employers facing fines (of up to £10,000) for employing illegal immigrants, how can smaller employers be sure they’re abiding by the rules when even our own government is incapable of doing so?

It’s pretty embarrassing for the government, on the one hand Theresa May claiming that tackling illegal immigration is the number one priority while on the the other, a series of lapses reveals just how difficult that is going to be. The woman, arrested on January 2nd, had been working in parliament as a casual member of the catering team, and should have been escorted everywhere she went. She roamed freely however, using a pass owned by a permanent employee. At a time when the terrorism threat is approaching its most critical level, we have to wonder how this happened, as Keith Vaz (chairman of the home affairs committee) said, "of all the places where one would assume passports and the right to work are checked, parliament is the No 1."

Employers are under a duty to do everything reasonably possible to ensure that employees are able to work legally in the UK. This includes checking identity documents and making reasonable attempts to ensure they are not forged. Where workers are working under ‘list B’ documentation (non permanent rights to work) they should be rechecked at 12 monthly intervals. By keeping decent records to show they have done these things employers will maintain a ‘due diligence defence’ under which they could avoid prosecution in the event of unwittingly employing a worker found to be illegal. For more on right to work checks, read our earlier article here.

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