Operation Magnify: preventing illegal working

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The Home Office has launched Operation Magnify, a UK-wide enforcement and compliance initiative to prevent illegal working for cleaning contractors, in the construction industry and in the care sector with a series of raids.

Although most companies will already have procedures in place to minimise the chance of accidentally employing illegal workers, those that don’t should be aware of the risks of failing to meet their legal obligations.

To ensure compliance, providers will need to have done all necessary checks for Right to Work.

  1. Ask for the applicant’s original identity documents that show they can work in the UK. This might be a Biometric Residence Permit or a passport – there’s a full list of documents on GOV.UK.
  2. Check the documents are genuine and valid while the applicant is with you – either in person or on screen. Check the name, photo, and expiry date.
  3. Make clear copies of the documents, record the date you made the check, and put the copies somewhere safe.
  4. Make additional checks if permission to work is time limited.

You may need to use the Home Office Employer Checking Service to check an employee’s or potential employee’s immigration status if:

  • they can’t show you their documents, eg they have an outstanding appeal or application with the Home Office,
  • they have an Application Registration Card,
  • they have a Certificate of Application.

Provision of Forgery Training can be arranged on request.

Enforcement visits are likely, but these are to be done on a ‘can we help’ basis rather than immediately penalising providers. However, an employer found to be employing illegal workers after failing to carry out the correct right to work checks can be fined up to £20,000 per illegal worker. Those who knowingly employ an illegal worker can face up to two years in prison.