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Employing Migrant Workers
What are migrant workers?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a migrant worker as: “someone who is or has been working in Great Britain (GB) in the last 12 months, and has come to GB from abroad to work within the last 5 years”.
Key risk factors:
cultural barriers and differences
possible poor health leading to increased susceptibility to risk
possible lack of willingness to integrate
different perceptions of risk
possible employment of illegal immigrants.
Recommendations for employers:
ensure risk assessments consider risks specific to migrant workers
ensure migrant workers are recruited only if they meet the statutory criteria and provide specified evidence
ensure the records of required documentation checks are retained, failure to do so can result in prosecution
ensure training and information are understandable for migrant workers, and are understood in practice
ensure transport, used for transporting workers, is suitable and is maintained in good condition
consider a programme of support and mentoring, eg help with forms and claims
ensure managers have tools, skills and knowledge to manage migrant workers appropriately
ensure terms and conditions are comparable with non-migrant workers
develop team working and people management to ensure migrant workers are engaged and integrated.
Control measures and risk reduction techniques:
assess and monitor labour providers, ie recruitment agencies and gang masters
establish mutual responsibilities with labour providers and develop contracts and service level agreements
check the entitlement of migrant workers to work in UK and keep specified evidence
provide induction and ongoing training that is comprehensible to migrants
consider support programmes including information packs, mentoring, language training etc
ensure terms and conditions are comparable across the migrant and non-migrant workforce
assess previous training, qualifications and experience to ensure their validity in the UK for the specific work
provide increased supervision where needed due to cultural or language differences
involve migrant workers effectively in consultation and communication processes to ensure that their concerns and risks are adequately addressed
establish any need for translation and investigate services available, eg through Citizens Advice Bureau
where acting as a private landlord, ensure checks are made of the immigration status of tenants.
The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006
The Immigration Act 2014
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996
The Modern Slavery Act 2015.
The best known case of the health and safety of migrant workers being mis- managed is that of the cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay in 2005, as a result of the fast changing tides. The gang master who was responsible for them was sentenced to 21 years in prison, for their manslaughter and for causing illegal immigrants to work in the UK.