Over the past couple of years, Brexit has stirred up much debate about the level of non-UK workers in the construction industry. It’s clear that there are many migrants working in roles across the breadth of the industry, but what is not clear is how many of them really have the right to work in the UK and how this can be properly managed.
In 2017, the CITB worked with IFF Research and the Institute of Employment Research (IER) at the University of Warwick to produce a comprehensive study of the role of non-UK workers in construction. What they found was that 1 in 3 construction firms take on migrant workers. Of these firms, 1 in 8 of their workforce are not UK nationals, with this rising to about 1 in 2 within London.
Skills shortages and availability were cited as the top reasons for taking on international workers. This is even more significant considering that earlier this year skills shortages in the UK were reported as hitting the worst recorded level. It appears there is a desperate need for skilled people to come into the country and take up these roles, but this leaves the question of how to properly manage it. Something that is absolutely vital.
The penalties for employing illegal workers can be severe. The government states that “you can be sent to jail for 5 years and pay an unlimited fine if you’re found guilty of employing someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ didn’t have the right to work in the UK.” Therefore checking workforces is imperative and those in charge need to be able to demonstrate that such checks took place.
However, many find this easier said than done. Construction companies have numerous workers across multiple sites at any given time which can make tracking people very difficult.
This is where a product like Biosite’s workforce management system can really help. Before an operative even gets to site, they are asked to register online. This will capture all their details and will then be matched with their fingerprint to ensure a totally unique record is created.
Alongside CSCS card checks, health and safety screening and inputting details of training, operatives also need to state that they have the right to work in the UK. All the answers to these questions will then follow that operative throughout the entire time that they work at a particular company, irrelevant of how many different sites they may travel to. If they try to create a new profile with alternative details it will be flagged up the second the fingerprint is matched, meaning duplication is truly eliminated.
With no confusion over profiles, a genuine unique match and clear data input, construction companies can have peace of mind that those who are working on their sites should definitely be there. It is also very easy to prove that these checks were made, by whom and on what date through the in-built reporting tools.
Furthermore, all these checks are done before an operative even leaves their home to start working on the site. This means the time wasted going over such details on site is no longer a problem.
To find out more about how Biosite’s right to work checks can help you, please contact us on 0121 374 2939 or email nick.hickman@biositesystems.