UK: Short Cut To Danger!

Last Updated: 23 May 2005
Article by Edward Goodwyn

Originally published 7 March 2005

The shortage of skilled labour is potentially the greatest challenge facing the UK construction industry today. The Construction Industry Training Board estimates that the industry needs to recruit at least 76,000 people each year, with a wide range of skills, in order to keep up with growth in areas such as the house building sector which makes up more than one-third of the UK construction market.

Unfortunately the dearth in home-grown apprenticeships and the expansion of the EU means employers are increasingly left with little choice but to employ migrant workers. According to research conducted by the Construction Confederation last year there could be as much as 100,000 migrant workers already employed on building sites throughout the UK and Home Office figures unveiled earlier this year showed that 130,000 individuals from eastern Europe have registered to work in the UK since their states joined the EU last May.

Section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 requires all employers in the UK to make basic document checks on every person they intend to employ. However the frequent demand for immediate resources within the construction industry means that it can sometimes be tempting to overlook the requirement to check the immigration status of individuals before employing them.

Having to carry out immigration checks on every individual worker can appear to be a cumbersome, time-consuming and unattractive task. However, employers should be extremely wary of succumbing to such pressures, and not carrying out the required immigration checks, because it is a criminal offence to employ someone, aged 16 or over, who has no right to work in UK.

In May last year the Government introduced changes to the types of documents which employers need to check for three key reasons :

  • to make it harder for people who do not have permission to work in the UK to obtain work by using forged or false documents;
  • to make it easier for employers to ensure that they employ people who are legally permitted to work in the UK; and
  • to strengthen Government controls on tackling illegal working by making it easier for the UK Immigration Service to take action against employers who deliberately use illegal labour.

Failure to carry out the required immigration checks may result in the employer being found guilty of a criminal offence under the Asylum and Immigration Act. This is punishable by a fine of up to £5,000 for each person whom the employer is found to have employed illegally. Additionally, directors and officers could be found personally liable for the offence and fined accordingly.

To defend yourself against such a charge you must be able to show that before the employee commenced work, you checked and copied sufficient numbers of original documents in order to satisfy the requirements of the new immigration legislation introduced last year. The purpose of the document checks is to establish whether or not the individual is an EEA national and/or has the right to reside and work in the UK. Employers also need to satisfy themselves that the employee is the rightful holder of the documents. You should consider checking expiry dates and look for consistency between different documents that are presented. The combinations of documents which satisfy the legislation can be found on the Home Office's Working in the UK website (

Employers should take care when carrying out immigration checks to ensure that they do not discriminate on racial grounds. If you are found to have done this, you could face discrimination claims and be ordered to pay unlimited damages. The overriding principle which emerges is that businesses should refrain from taking short cuts and ensure that they treat all job candidates identically regardless of ethnic origin. A code of practice for employers on the avoidance of racial discrimination while preventing illegal working is available on the Home Office's Immigration & Nationality Directorate website (

Migrants who previously relied on the Inland Revenue's Construction Industry Scheme Four card (CIS4) will no longer be able to do so. Previously, holders of a CIS4 card were allowed to work in the UK for up to a year and pay tax. No immigration or nationality status checks were carried out. However new rules introduced last year mean that it is no longer lawful to rely upon a card or certificate issued by the Inland Revenue under CIS as evidence of ability to work in UK.

Historically the number of prosecutions by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate has been at a low level. The 'word on the street' is that immigration enforcement officers are carrying out spot checks in organisations – and charging the employer if irregularities are discovered – far more frequently now than they have done in the past. The Government's plans to forge ahead with identity cards should add to its arsenal of weapons in the war against illegal working. But will this leave the industry short-changed once again?

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions