Ward Hadaway launch specialist immigration division
Law firm Ward Hadaway has set up a specialist immigration department to help businesses and organisations pilot their way through growing regulation.
The Newcastle-based firm have established the team in response to new legislation governing the employment of foreign workers in the UK.
The Government has already unveiled plans to crack down further on companies who employ illegal immigrants with hefty fines in prospect for those found guilty.
Rules governing visas for temporary foreign workers have also been overhauled with a points-based system and income thresholds for longer stays changed.
And the picture is set to alter again in October when new Immigration Rules come into effect.
The resulting situation is now something of a minefield for employers, particularly since they also need to be mindful that they do not fall foul of equal opportunities legislation at the same time.
Employment lawyer Charlotte Ashton, a member of Ward Hadaway’s Immigration Team, explained: “Immigration remains something of a political hot potato, but it is employers who are at the sharp end of things and who have to deal with the practical implications of government policy.
“What they want above all is clarity – they need to know where they stand when it comes to employing staff from outside the UK, what they can and can’t do and what steps they need to take to ensure they stay on the right side of the law.
“This is one of the reasons why we have set up a special Immigration Team at Ward Hadaway, so that businesses and organisations have someone to turn to for expert advice when they are faced with such situations.”
The team has already been giving employers the low-down on the latest immigration regulations at a series of packed-out seminars across the North.
Scores of attendees came along to sessions held in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester which offered an introductory employers’ guide to immigration.
Employment lawyer and Immigration Team member Katie Armstrong, who presented at the seminars alongside Charlotte Ashton, said the attendances at the events demonstrated that immigration was a hot topic for employers.
Katie said: “It was clear both from the numbers of people attending the events and the feedback which we received from them that immigration is something that is exercising the minds of a lot of employers across a wide range of industries and in the private and public sectors.
“There is already quite a lot of regulation governing the employment of foreign workers even before the major changes which are on their way.
“In addition, immigration remains right at the top of the political agenda so there is the prospect of further rule changes and legislation coming further down the line, all of which means that employers need to take note of the subject sooner rather than later and act accordingly.”
Joe Thornhill, Partner and joint head of Employment Law at Ward Hadaway, said: “The picture on immigration and what employers can and can’t do is changing all the time. That is just one of the reasons why we felt it was important to establish a team which could give clear, practical and timely advice to employers on the issue.
“Getting it right on immigration is particularly important for businesses and organisations employing people in niche areas where skills shortages amongst UK workers can mean employers looking overseas to fill important vacancies.
“By setting up our Immigration Team, we hope that we can ensure that UK businesses can get the balance right between recruiting talented staff from abroad and keeping within the law on employing workers from outside the EU.”
Access free online guidance for North East businesses in the Growth Hub North East's COVID-19 toolkit →