Opinion Former Article

Small business owners are not immigration officers, says FSB

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has criticised new legislation on employing foreign workers that will impose unrealistic expectations and draconian fines on employers.

Parts of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act, which come into force tomorrow (Friday February 29), will require small employers to understand and verify up to thirteen different forms of identification when employing foreign workers, including recognising the passports of 27 EU member states. Small businesses face fines of £10,000 if they employ people illegally, even if they do so without knowing it.

The UK's biggest business organisation criticised the complexity of the legislation and the lack of publicity about the new rules.

Alan Tyrrell, FSB Employment Chairman, said:

"It is totally unfair to expect small business owners to act as immigration officers and then threaten them with huge fines if they slip up. It is doubly unfair when the Government then fails to adequately publicise the new rules.

"Immigration policy and the implementation of it is a matter for the Government, not for small business owners.

"Expecting small employers to understand and implement complicated immigration rules is ludicrous. The guidance notes alone for this piece of legislation run to nearly thirty pages."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. More information on the implications of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act on employers is available here: http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/employersandsponsors/guidancefrom290208/.

2. The FSB is Britain's biggest business organisation with over 210,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk.

Contacts:

Stephen Alambritis: 020 7592 8112 / 07788 422155
Andrew Cave: 020 7592 8113 / 07917 628991
Simon Briault: 020 7592 8128 / 07917 628998
Belinda Webb: 020 7592 8121 / 07825 125 695

For regional FSB contacts please go to www.fsb.org.uk/regions

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