Employing migrant workers


Further questions

Q81 - On page 7 of the comprehensive guidance for employers, it states that the Employers' Helpline cannot advise employers on "whether an individual is able to work, as the Home Office cannot disclose confidential personal data to third parties without that person's written consent." Does this mean that I can write to the Home Office to ask whether a job applicant has permission to work in the UK if I have the individual's express permission to do so?

The Employers' Helpline was introduced to provide general non-personal advice to employers; it was not intended to handle requests from individuals for personal information about job applicants. At present, any requests for personal information must be put in writing to the Home Office. If the consent of the individual concerned is to form the grounds for making the request for information from the Home Office, a copy of the individual's written consent must be supplied with that request.

It should only be in exceptional circumstances that employers would require further and specific confirmation from the Home Office to substantiate a job applicant's eligibility to take up employment in the UK. In these instances, and where the freely given and informed consent of the individual concerned has been given for personal data relating to them to be disclosed, the Home Office would respond to a request for specific personal information in writing. However, the Home Office does not currently hold a central register of foreign nationals permitted to work in the UK. Equally, there will be many people entitled to work here, such as EU nationals, on whom the Home Office will have no records.

If an employer is unhappy with the documentation provided by an individual supporting their right to work in the UK, then they are entitled to either ask the job applicant for further documentary proof of their eligibility, or to withdraw the offer of employment.

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Q82 - What is a 'working holidaymaker'?

The working holidaymaker scheme enables 17 - 30 year-old Commonwealth nationals to come to the United Kingdom for up to two years for a working holiday. They are permitted to work here to supplement their funds, but must be able to support themselves without relying on welfare benefits. Working holidaymakers may only stay in the UK as such for a maximum of two years and may only register on the working holidaymakers scheme once. You will be able to establish whether someone has this working holidaymaker status by checking for an endorsement or stamp in their passport which will clearly state that they are in the UK under this scheme.

Those working holidaymakers who were granted leave to enter the UK before 8 February 2005 will be granted entry clearance with a vignette, endorsement or stamp which includes the words: "...Employment as a working holidaymaker. Changes must be authorised by The Secretary of State." Working holidaymakers with this endorsement are not subject to any work restriction during their stay and whilst that leave remains valid. These working holidaymakers can work within their two-year stay here, either full-time or part-time, and there are no immigration restrictions on the type of employment that you can offer them during this period.

Those issued with entry clearance under the scheme on, or after 8 February 2005, will normally be issued with a vignette, endorsement or stamp which includes the words: "...work restricted to 12 months, no business, no professional sport." This means that they may only work for 12 months in total during their stay in this category and may not engage in business or provide services as a professional sportsperson. The 12 months of work may be spread over the two year period of stay, or taken in one block. There is no distinction made as to the hours worked each week. It is the days/weeks/months during which the working holidaymaker is employed that is relevant.

Employers who receive an application for employment from a working holidaymaker who entered the UK with a vignette, endorsement or stamp which includes the words "...work restricted to 12 months" are advised to ask the applicant how long her or she has already spent working in the UK in that capacity. No further enquiries should be necessary as the obligation is on the working holidaymaker to comply with his or her conditions of stay. Further information on the working holidaymaker scheme is available here.

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Q83 - What is an au pair?

An au pair is a single person between 17 and 27 from certain listed countries who has come to the United Kingdom to study English and work only as an au pair. Those entering on this scheme can live for up to two years as a member of an English speaking family and help in the home for up to five hours per day.

You cannot employ an au pair outside of their au pair duties or you will be committing an offence under section 8. The endorsement or stamp in their passport will clearly state that they are here as an au pair.

Further information on au pairs is available here.

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