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Peartree Cleaning Services are a leading independent provider of cleaning and support services across London and the South East. Each issue we will ask our readers to send us their questions, either relating to cleaning or the cleaning industry, for Peartree Cleaning Services to answer.

Q. How do I know if my cleaning staff are actually eligible to work in the UK?

A. It is very important to vet all of your personnel, including the people that you employ to clean your premises, to make sure they are eligible to work in the UK, as it is a criminal offence to employ anyone who is not legally allowed to work here. Employers could face a £10,000 fine per employee found to be working illegally, plus there is often associated bad press. If immigration makes a site visit to check documents, they may also check security staff and the clients own employees if they feel they could potentially have illegal workers.

Even if the cleaning contractor is taking on existing staff from a prior cleaning provider, immigration checking should be carried out by the new contractor. It should never be assumed that they are eligible to work in the UK just because they have been employed for some time. You therefore should make sure that you ask your contract cleaning company how they operate their staff vetting process and how they guarantee applicants are eligible to work in the country. As the client, you may not necessarily need to carry out your own checks on cleaning operatives if you are using a contract cleaning

company, but it is very important that you always clarify what procedures are in place to ensure UK border compliance is upheld.

At Peartree Cleaning Services we follow rigorous vetting procedures when employing new personnel. In Britain, the workforce is ethnically and culturally diverse and it’s important to make sure all of your employees take part in the same application process. You can get guidance from the Home Office to ensure that you are complying with UK law. We work closely with, and seek advice if need be, from the Home Office UK Border Agency, and follow their strict guidelines.

The process of vetting should start from application. An application form should be filled in and applicants should be asked to sign the form, confirming that they have answered all of the questions honestly. We always take a copy of original documents for our records which have been presented to us to prove that applicants are entitled to both live and work in the UK. When inspecting documents it is important to always check signatures, pictures, dates of birth and expiry dates. We make sure our managers and supervisors are trained on how to identify authentic identification and travel documentation, and they regularly receive tool box talks on this subject.

Some of the other things that you should consider when vetting your personnel, include:

National Insurance number: You should ask for proof of a National Insurance number. If your applicant does not have a National

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Insurance number they will need to arrange an interview with Job Centre Plus. Please note that it can sometimes take up to six weeks to get an appointment. Be careful to make sure that you check every applicant’s National Insurance cards very carefully as these can sometimes be forged.

Proof of address: Ask the applicant to provide you with proof of their home address in the UK. This should be in the form of an original utility bill, bank statement or an official letter. Always take a copy for your records.

Bank Account: We make sure all of our employees have their own bank account and their earnings are paid directly into this account.

References: Always ask for references for employees, including part time employees and temporary staff. We would also suggest that you ask for details of their employment history in the last few years.

We would recommend that you visit the Home Office UK Border Agency website for in depth information and advice.

If you have a question for the expert, please email: Your question could be featured in the next issue of Tomorrow’s Cleaning.

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