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Legal Q&A: Immigration status checks and varying a designated premises supervisor

By Poppleston Allen

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Stringent checks: Employees need the right to work
Stringent checks: Employees need the right to work

Related tags: Licensing

The latest legal Q&A from specialist licensing solicitors Poppleston Allen covers immigration status checks and varying the a designated premises supervisor over a suspension case

Immigration status check

Q: I am not sure I am up to speed on the requirements for checking the immigration status of employees. I take copies of passports but some of my workers only have letters with their national insurance number or benefits letters proving their home address. I know I should be more thorough but the pressures of the business have made me put things on the back burner. Is there a simple guide to help me get this right because I have heard immigration officials can close premises down for employing illegal workers?

A: You are right to ask the question. It seems your checks are inadequate to say the least. The employment (whether by a written or an oral contract) of individuals without a right to work in the UK is viewed extremely seriously by the Home Office, the police and the licensing authority. Frequently, if illegal workers are identified, the Home Office will ask for revocation of the licence.

Thankfully the Government has provided guidance and online tools to help you get this right but you must have carried out the checks before you employ a person to ensure they are legally allowed to work.

You can carry out manual or online checks that include obtaining original versions of one or more acceptable documents, checking those documents’ validity and retaining a copy of the document, while recording the date when the check was made.

The online service is easier to use, provided the applicant has already obtained a ‘share code’ from the Home Office website proving their right to work. This code, which is valid for 30 days, can be shared with you. Whichever way you check applicants’ right to work, you must do it correctly and do  it without exemption. I suggest you use the key words ‘right to work checks’ and ‘employer’ on the website.

Need to vary the DPS over suspension case

Q: I have suspended my manager due to dishonesty, pending a full investigation. He is the designated premises supervisor (DPS) for the pub in question and I am worried about varying the DPS to another personal licence holder as the individual who has been suspended may use this against me in a tribunal as evidence that I had already made up my mind as to his guilt. My pub has a late licence so we work closely with the police and licensing authority.

A: That is a difficult question and not as unusual as you might imagine. First and foremost, under licensing law the DPS has day-to-day responsibility for running the premises under the Licensing Act.

You have to ask yourself if there was an incident or the police or other authorities wanted to contact somebody in management at the premises to discuss an issue, who would that person be and would that person be able to deal with the issue.

In all likelihood, the police would contact your suspended manager who, having been suspended, would have no authority from you as his employer to discuss matters relating to the premises. Therefore, you have a problem from a licensing point of view as the police would be frustrated and lines of communication will be blurred.

I would advise you to take advice from your employment lawyers regarding how to deal with the suspension and investigation but from a licensing perspective the issue needs to be dealt with quickly.

If the DPS named on your licence (i.e. the suspended manager) has no control whatsoever over the premises, it is arguable you have no DPS at all, which would be in breach of one of the mandatory conditions.

As always, common sense prevails and your close working relationships with the police and licensing authority will assist.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

Related topics: Licensing Hub, Licensing law

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