Employing migrant workers



 

Voluntary Activity

Q78 - Can asylum seekers volunteer their services?

Asylum seekers are allowed to volunteer, as long as they are carrying out the work on behalf of a charity, voluntary organisation or body that raises funds for either. Any voluntary activity undertaken should not amount to either employment, or job substitution.

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Q79 - Can I be prosecuted under section 8 if I am found to be providing voluntary work to someone without permission to work in the UK?

Section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 makes it a criminal offence to employ an individual who has no permission to work in the United Kingdom, or where their conditions of stay do not entitle them to take the employment in question.

The Immigration Rules prevent certain categories of entrant from engaging in voluntary work or voluntary activity, such as visitors and au pairs. However, the legal distinction between an employee and a volunteer can be quite complex and there are huge differences between the types of voluntary work or voluntary activity that people can be engaged in. The Home Office would not wish to give advice which might lay voluntary organisations open to prosecution for employing people illegally. Therefore, the Home Office strongly recommends that organisations seek independent legal advice for their specific volunteering activity.

In terms of liability for prosecution under section 8, it is the contract of employment that is the determining factor for whether a person is employed or not. Where there is no contract of employment between the parties concerned, the Immigration Service would not seek to prosecute organisations where voluntary activity is taking place. However, persons subject to immigration control should comply with their conditions of entry, including any prohibition on voluntary activity.

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Q80 - What is the difference between 'volunteering' and 'unpaid work'? For example, if a posting entitles a participant to observe what happens in a clinical setting in the UK, does this contravene the 'no work' endorsement stamp in their passport?

Voluntary activity should not amount to either employment, or job substitution. There is a fundamental difference in the nature of the activity itself and the specific exclusion of work (whether it is paid or unpaid) as defined in the individual passport, should not include voluntary activity where it is clearly undertaken as such.

In terms of liability for prosecution under section 8, it is the contract of employment that is the determining factor for whether a person is 'employed' or not, therefore, the Immigration Service would not seek to prosecute organisations where voluntary activity is taking place and no contract of employment exists between the concerned parties.

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Additional Info




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