The identity challenge of the migrant workforce

In a country where a large migrant workforce can both empower and cause issues, John Lord, managing director of GB Group, examines what must be considered by employers.

The phrase ‘the world is your oyster’ has never felt as pertinent as it does for today’s worker.

The ease of global travel combined with the internet age has made national borders more fluid than ever before, with workers no longer resigned to their country of origin for work opportunities. Companies from around the world are similarly able to build diverse workforces, bringing in the best characteristics and skills from an ever accessible pool of global talent.

While such an influx of diverse people with different skill sets is welcomed, the process of verifying the identities of workers can be complex, particularly for those moving to the UK from countries outside of the EU. Last week saw immigration minister Mark Harper resign after it was revealed that his cleaner did not have permission to work in the UK, due to documentation revealing she did not have indefinite leave to stay in the country.

This week BBC’s Panorama documentary exposed a network of agents which help students extend their visas through fraud, with the undercover journalists revealing cheating in government-approved English exams, which have now been withdrawn by the Home Office following the programme’s revelations.

More on the hiring of overseas staff:

Many companies are unaware of the fines that can be incurred if they fail to accurately verify workers. For example, allowing a migrant worker to drive in the UK without a fully verified British driving licence can result in a minimum fine of £10,000, even if the worker holds a legal driving licence from another country.

Similarly, if a company hires a student on a temporary holiday visa, they can face fines if this expires during the employment. Such potentially high fines can inflict heavy damage, particularly on smaller companies. Ensuring that employees are who they say they are is of paramount importance for employers.

The rise in technology has meant that businesses operate at pace, with real-time software building an expectation of fast processes and results. The method of identity verification may initially seem like an additional task, but if built into a hiring process it does not have to be the case.

With effective verification measures included in the recruitment process, businesses will be able to embrace the advantages of a global, connected employee pool with the reassurance that their new team members are who they say they are.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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