Essential credentials

18th April 1997 at 01:00
As schools approach the peak recruitment period, those who employ teachers should be aware they could face criminal charges if they hire staff who have no right to work in the UK. Under section 8 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, it is an offence to employ anyone other than a British citizen, a Commonwealth citizen with the right of abode in the UK, or a national of any country in the European Economic Area - unless that person has permission to live and work in the UK.

Since January this year, magistrates have been able to impose fines of up to #163;5,000 for this offence. But employers who check and keep a copy of one of the documents specified in the legislation before employing a person will have a defence, even if it turns out the person is working without permission. These documents include a payslip or P45 showing the person's national insurance number, or a passport stating that the holder has the right of abode in the UK.

Local authorities are the employers of school staff except in grant-maintaine d or voluntary-aided schools, where the governors are the employers. They were not required to make checks on people who started work for them before 27 January 1997. But they would be well advised to look at the documents of all job applicants employed since then. Employers who carry out checks only on people whose appearance or accent suggests they are not British could end up paying compensation under the 1976 Race Relations Act.

The Home Office advises employers to treat all job applicants equally and not to ask people "who look or sound foreign" for passports if they ask others only for a national insurance number. If an applicant cannot produce a national insurance number, the employer must ask for a passport, birth certificate, naturalisation certificate or other document.

The 1996 act applies to all employees, full or part-time, permanent or temporary. But school employers are not liable for people employed by contractors. Nor are they liable for consultants, supply teachers and self-employed people. But if a school uses an agency to find staff it subsequently employs, the governing body or LEA will be liable.

The act allows Commonwealth citizens aged 17-27 to come to the UK for up to two years as working holidaymake rs - provided they take only work that is "incidental" to their holidays. In practice this means they can take part-time or casual work. But employers must check that the passports of young Commonwealth citizens contain a stamp showing this entitlement.

For advice on which documents are sufficient, call 0181 649 7878.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now