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Migrant workers: Your responsibilities as an employer

Particularly since the expansion of the EU to include countries from the former Soviet bloc, the number of migrant workers coming to the UK has increased substantially. Employing migrant workers raises a number of equality and diversity issues of which employers should be aware.

Migrant workers have become a valued part of the British workforce, economy and society and are now crucial to many sectors of industry.Home Office statistics show that there are around 600,000 people from overseas working in various roles, from fruit picking and food processing to medicine and dentistry. It's essential for organisations which employ migrant workers to be aware both of the legal framework for employing workers from abroad, and how to meet their specific needs.

The basic rule of thumb when recruiting new staff is that you should treat migrant workers in exactly the same way as British workers. Migrant workers working in the UK enjoy exactly the same protection from discrimination as their British counterparts, although their needs and requirements may differ. Employers should be aware of any particular ways in which they can support their overseas employees - this can include translating important documents or ensuring that migrant workers understand their legal rights and responsibilities. As a group, migrants are also particularly vulnerable to exploitation, discrimination and harassment, and it is the duty of their employers to protect their migrant workforce from such treatment.

Acas provides practical and straightforward guidanceon the equality and diversity aspects of employing migrant workers and can help you to update your policies and procedures to meet the needs of these workers.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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