Protecting your employee brand 

April, 2024 - Shoosmiths LLP

Watch the webinar video and study our key takeaway points from our latest webinar focused on avoiding illegal working and managing risk.

Our 2024 webinar programme is focused on supporting HR teams to protect the employee brand proposition of the organisations they work for. Presented by our leading team of employment lawyers these sessions will equip you on how best to handle key risks that could undermine the organisation’s employee brand.


HR teams have a lot on their plate, but a key priority for 2024 is undoubtedly protecting the employee brand proposition. Our 2024 online programme is focused on supporting HR teams to do just this, equipping them with the tools they need to protect the employee brand proposition of the organisations they work for.

Our latest webinar focused on what organisations need to do to avoid illegal working and manage risk within their supply chains. The key takeaway points are set out below:

Right to work checks

  • Right to work checks, if carried out correctly, will provide a statutory excuse for employers against liability for a civil penalty in cases where they are found to employ illegal workers.
  • The checks should be undertaken as early as possible before the start of employment.
  • Employers need to obtain the employee’s original documents or check their share code online. The documents need to be manually checked in the presence of the prospective employee and a copy of the checked documents, along with a record of when the check was carried out, should be kept for the duration of employment and for 2 years afterwards.
  • Employers should ensure they diarise any expiry dates and remember to repeat the checks for those on time limited leave or visas.
  • A failure to comply with the requirements could result in fines, imprisonment, compliance sanctions, reputational damage as well as impacting on any sponsor licence the business holds.

Sponsor licence

  • Organisations must have a sponsor licence before they can employee overseas workers to work in the UK (where the individuals don’t otherwise have eligibility to work).
  • There are several sponsored routes, although the main one is the Skilled Worker route.
  • A sponsoring organisation will have responsibilities for reporting, recording and compliance, and it is important that businesses understand these before becoming a sponsor.
  • Failure to comply with the requirements can result in downgrading, suspension or even revocation of a sponsor licence.
  • The Government has announced changes with effect from 4 April 2024 and these affect sponsor licence holders and skilled workers. They are complex and any employers who are considering sponsoring an overseas worker should take urgent legal advice.

Discrimination: when claims arise and how to avoid them

  • The potential for claims of discrimination can arise where employers do not act consistently in terms of carrying out right to work checks, for instance by only checking the status of those who appear to be from overseas or making assumptions based on race, nationality, accent, surname or period in which they have been in the UK.
  • The same applies in terms of decisions about whether to have a sponsor licence and whether to sponsor, extend sponsorship or to “fund” visas.
  • To avoid claims, employers should ensure right to work checks are applied to all employees and should not make any decisions based on assumptions about a person’s background or eligibility to work.

Compliance with modern slavery requirements

  • Forced labour occurs across the world but a large proportion can be found in the supply chains of commercial organisations. Those organisations need to take action to identify and prevent modern slavery.
  • Businesses that do not comply with their modern slavery obligations will be in breach of their duties resulting in financial penalties and sanctions. In addition, modern slavery is a key social compliance issue within the ESG framework for most organisations.
  • Those organisations with a global turnover of over £36 million who have a UK presence must publish a modern slavery and human trafficking statement on an annual basis on their website.
  • A modern slavery and human trafficking statement should be signed by a director or equivalent and should contain:
    • the organisation’s structure and supply chains - for a company dealing with products or raw materials, it should also indicate how such products are sourced;
    • policies it has relating to modern slavery and human trafficking;
    • details of how it conducts its due diligence process regarding modern slavery;
    • details of any parts of the business that may be exposed to risk and how this has been mitigated;
    • the organisation’s effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in business or supply chains, measured against any KPIs necessary; and
    • details of any training it conducts for staff on this topic.
  • To ensure compliance, organisations should identify any risks, review existing contracts, ensure managers and procurement teams are appropriately trained and establish relevant supply chain audits.


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