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Operation Magnify focuses on stamping out on illegal working in cleaning industry
A meeting took place last week between leaders of the cleaning industry and Immigration officials, as part of Operation Magnify, the Home Office's latest campaign in the fight to stamp out illegal working.
Operation Magnify is targeting the construction and care home sectors as well as cleaning contractors, as these are thought to be some of the most likely industries that illegal workers are to be found - along with the restaurant sector.
The Home Office has already begun its work with the construction sector and is now moving into care and cleaning. It is argued that not only do companies employing illegal workers break the law, they are also able to undercut others that focus on compliance and rights for their employees. With fines now up to £20,000, best practice is key.
The industry groups involved, focus on sharing best practice and intelligence. The aim is to ensure that employers who want to do the right thing and follow the correct procedures have access to guidance and communication on the relevant issues. However, companies are being asked to share what they know about what is happening in the industry and report on how it can be improved - hence last week's meeting.
"The Cleaning & Support Services Association could play a key part in ensuring that smaller companies - where resources are not as readily available as they are to some of the larger companies sitting around the table with those running Operation Magnify - receive information about what they can do and how," says Doug Cooke, chairman of the CSSA and CEO of Principle Cleaning Services.
"There is currently an Immigration Bill going through Parliament which was also discussed; the main focus is to introduce legislation which avoids exploitation and modern slavery."
Immigration Enforcement will be scheduling further meetings to work alongside employers at tackling illegal working and requesting the cleaning industry leaders to participate on sharing data with the agency.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire, says: "Operation Magnify will involve Home Office enforcement officers carrying out operations specifically to target those businesses in the sector which are employing and exploiting illegal migrant workers.
"Coming together with key employers and influencers in the industry is a chance for us to engage with those who are keen to maintain the integrity of the sector.
Illegal working undermines legitimate employers, harms the reputation of the industry, drives down wages and denies employment to hard-working UK citizens and people who are working in the UK legally.
"Employers within the industry have a critical role to play in helping to combat this by ensuring they carry out the straightforward 'Right to Work' checks on potential employees that prevent illegal working in the UK.
"The roundtable event was an opportunity for those in the industry to share their experiences of illegal working in the sector, find out more about measures introduced by the government to tackle the problem, and discuss what more can be done."
The government has already taken action to make 'Right to Work' checks much easier for legitimate employers to carry out, including by reducing the frequency of checks and the range of documents needed.
Failure to comply has serious financial repercussions - in the last Parliament the government doubled the maximum civil penalty for non-compliant employers to £20,000 for each illegal worker employed.
New measures included in the Immigration Bill currently progressing through Parliament will make it easier to prosecute employers using illegal labour, increase the maximum prison sentence for doing so to five year and also close down businesses which continue to flout the rules.
Those who work illegally will themselves be committing a criminal offence and face the prospect of having their earnings seized, and we will also continue to seek to remove from the UK anyone who does not have the right to be here.
Employers with questions about checking a job applicant's right to work in the UK can call the dedicated support line for advice on 0300 123 4699. They can also use the Employers' Checking Service for checks on migrants with outstanding immigration applications and appeals.
Anyone with concerns about illegal working or non-compliant employers should report this to the Home Office.
Details can be found at:
Image: Representing the industry: Doug Cooke was the worthy winner of the Sholom Gordon Award this year - presented annually by the British Institute of Cleaning Science to the individual who has demonstrated outstanding service to both the institute and the cleaning industry.
For further information on the CSSA please contact John Findlater at the CSSA via:
E: [email protected]
10th December 2015