Migrant Workers: Understand the Special Risks and Your Legal Duties

Do you employ migrant workers at your care home? If so, you need to be aware that there may be special risks involved and that you need to take specific action to protect your migrant workers. Read on to find out more about your legal duties and the action you should take.

Migrant Workers: Understand the Special Risks and Your Legal Duties

The number of migrant workers in the UK is on the increase, particularly because of the expansion of the EU and the economic problems in many parts of Europe. Migrant workers may be at an increased risk at your workplace because:

  • Migrant workers are sometimes not able to easily understand English, and many do not wish to admit to their limitations in English for fear of losing their job or not being employed in the first place. Therefore, health and safety training and instruction in English may not be effective whether such communication is verbal or written.
  • Some migrant workers may come from countries where health and safety standards are low and where health and safety legislation is undeveloped.
  • There are often cultural differences too, which may affect the workers’ approach to health and safety in the workplace, their attitudes to health and safety and their perception of risk. Some come from countries where taking risks in the workplace is ‘part of the job’.

Exactly the same law applies to migrant workers as to any person at work and this is also true even if the migrant worker is working illegally in the UK. This means that the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Regulations made under the Act apply.

The employment relationship for migrant workers can sometimes be complicated. Where agencies and labour providers are used, they will also have responsibilities under the Act.

4 Tips for Managing Migrant Workers

  1. Training: they may be completely unfamiliar with workplace risks, and may have never done the sort of work they are required to do – so make sure induction training is clear and simple.
  2. Communication: they may have problems communicating in English. Make sure communication is clear and effective, for example, by providing information in other languages, visual formats or simple English if necessary.
  3. Competence: before they start at your workplace, check that they have the occupational qualifications or skills needed for the job, and assess skill levels gained from overseas qualifications.
  4. Attitude to health and safety: they may have different expectations about health and safety responsibilities. So make sure they understand the importance of health and safety in your workplace.

If you employ migrant workers, take action now. They may be at increased risk.

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