"HR said I was illegal because I didn't have a biometric card..."

Steve Bridger

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Community Manager

9 Apr, 2018 20:35

I was following the story of Michael Braithwaite today - the man living in the UK for 56 years who lost his school job over immigration papers.

He is one of an emerging group of people who were born in Commonwealth countries and arrived in the UK as children who have discovered half a century later that they have serious and hard to fix immigration problems.

Amelia Gentleman has been doing a fine job shining a light on these stories at the Guardian

I can't help but think this is putting a strain on those who work in HR at schools and local authorities. It reminds me a little of the testing our integrity discussion we've had here in the past.

The relevant bits from the Guardian piece:

"The personnel department got in touch to tell him that without a biometric card he could not continue to be employed. The 66-year-old lost his full-time job in 2017 after the local authority ruled he needed to submit documentary proof that he had the right to live in the UK. He has been trying for two years without success to get the Home Office to acknowledge that he is in Britain legally.

"Braithwaite was distraught at losing his job. “I had a good rapport with the children. The head said I was an asset to the school, but the HR department said I was illegal because I didn’t have a biometric card."

I hope he manages to to put his life back together again.

  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    2 May, 2018 11:00

    In reply to Robey:

    They should. We should celebrate them here when we hear of one.
  • In reply to Robey:

    I agree and that's another problem we have to deal with
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    The difficulty , of course, with celebrating HR practitioners who in effect break the law due to their conscious, is where you draw the line?

    This wasn't (despite how it may in future be painted) an administrative mistake but a deliberate Government policy to deny these people citizenship (I believe it was highlighted in the impact assessment prior to the change).

    Therefore turning a blind eye to their continued employment whilst maybe noble was in effect committing your employer to employing an (as was then) illegal worker. As the Government have now devolved much of the checking of this sort of thing to employers if this hadn't blown up into an almighty political row those employers would have been heavily fined etc...

    So its a very high tight rope - our job is to protect our employers and one persons bureaucratic "letter of the law" is another's clear legal/policy decisions. I am not sure what the real answer is here for HR practitioners and I can imagine a slightly different set of circumstances where a HR practitioner following their own moral code rather than the law might have some reaching for the CIPD disciplinary code.

    Certainly no easy answers
  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    3 May, 2018 17:02

    In reply to Keith:

    No easy answers indeed, Keith.

    Wouldn't mind seeing if has a view on this ;)
  • In reply to Keith:

    Quite right, Keith. For all that we are individuals, dealing with individuals, we participate in a system that, overall, will tend to be better if its components are compliant.

    And when our compliance is at odds with improvement, we are best off working together for change rather than trying to take on the system on our own. Why, it's almost like there ought to be, oh, some sort of professional body doing the lobbying on our behalf, eh ?
  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    3 May, 2018 17:52

    In reply to Robey:

    There's a great deal of policy work that happens behind the scenes... I know that ;)
  • In reply to Robey:

    As Head of HR within a public organisation I was presented with a family passport of a 9 year old who came to the UK 15 years previous. Part of the requirements for recruitment of every new employee in the organisation is that successful applicants must provide valid documents or correspondence from the Home Office of their eligibility to live/work in the UK. This individual had nothing to confirm his status except for this still valid passport with his photograph as a 9 year old.

    We gave him every opportunity to provide us with the documents we required as an organisation. When he failed to produce these, we did not employ him.

    He took us to ET for racial discrimination

    He lost his case. Our organisation rules coupled with Home Office immigration regs prevailed. There was no discrimination as we had treated the individual exactly the same as everyone else who applied for employment within or organisation