How Employers Can Support Migrant Workers in the UK

Written by Calvin
Last updated August 3, 2022

The number of migrants worldwide is one in seven. ⅔ of those migrants moved for better work and career opportunities. There is a large network of migrant workers in the UK from all across the globe. In every sector of the workforce, people from different nationalities and cultures bring skill, value, and dedication to their jobs. 

As such, it is likely that, as a UK employer, you will need to think about how you can support migrant workers. You might feel that you are lacking in the knowledge or resources you need. You might have had a negative experience in the past. Or maybe you just have an interest in providing the best access possible to work. Whatever your reasons might be, improving your support for migrant workers is an important and honourable thing to do. So, you are very welcome to this blog and we hope it helps you with what you are looking for. 

In this blog, we’ll talk about the main ways employers can support migrant workers in the UK. We’ll discuss 3 main sections: equal access, rights, and the work environment. Throughout these sections, we will share best practices you can follow to support migrant workers. 

Let’s get started with equal access. 

1. Ensuring Equal Access

The first thing we need to consider for migrant workers in the UK is the concept of equality and equal access. Migrant workers need to be given the same level of support and fairness as any other worker in our workforce. Regardless of where someone comes from and what their background is, they deserve the same treatment as those who were born in the UK.

There are a couple of different ways in which you can ensure as much equal access as possible within your company or workplace. We need to remember that migrant workers have individual difficulties and hurdles to overcome. We also need to be aware of our own biases that may be spreading inequality more than we even think. 

Inclusive Recruitment

The first way in which we can ensure more equal opportunities is with inclusive recruitment. When we are considering people for work, we need to consider their skills and personal qualities. Not their background, race, or migration history. If you want to be an employer that supports migrant workers in the UK, you need to work on recruiting fairly and openly. Often, highly skilled and valuable workers miss out on jobs because of inaccessible recruitment. You can, however, attract workers from diverse backgrounds to your business. 

Language Barriers

Secondly, we must consider language barriers. Most migrants in the UK will not be native English speakers. To ensure that this doesn’t hold them back, we can provide access to English courses either internally or externally, and/or we can hire interpreters. Remember that these are both things you can get financial support with from the Access to Work scheme. Ensuring our workers can communicate as well as possible with us and their colleagues, improves job retention rates, employee happiness, and overall wellbeing. 

The more equal footing we can have, the better we can all work together.

2. Protecting Human Rights

Migrants must, of course, have the legal right to work in the UK before they enter employment. There are lots of different ways in which migrant workers can obtain access to work in the UK. All workers will need an approved visa to work legally in the country. Some workers may receive sponsorship from an employer to achieve this visa, others may be on a short visa to work temporarily or to study. You can read more about this on this page

Once an employee receives clearance to work in the UK, there should be no differences in how you treat or pay them. All workers will need to apply for a National Insurance Number which will be used for their salary or paid hours. This ensures everything is above board and that all taxes can be calculated appropriately. All workers in the UK are entitled to statutory minimum wage, regardless of where they are from.

If you have someone enquiring about cash in hand or payment of less than minimum wage, you will need to consider if they are in a safe situation. You can contact the government directly and anonymously if you’re worried about the legitimacy of a migration situation.

Further Support

Many migrant workers are taken advantage of when they move country to work. It’s important to be aware of this and to signpost your employees to further help and assistance. If it isn’t at work, discrimination and exploitation may be happening in other areas of their lives, including housing. You can help to protect the human rights of your migrant workers by readily providing information they can use to seek support. Try having a support member of staff available to talk, putting posters in common areas, and having an open-door policy with HR or management. Some great sources of support to include are:

As we discussed in the previous section of this blog, migrant workers need help with access to these resources in terms of language barriers. Providing an interpreter or access to English learning courses can help keep this support accessible. 

3. Proving an Inclusive, Safe and Positive Environment 

Ultimately, what employers need to do is provide an inclusive, safe and positive environment for everyone they employ. This includes any and all migrant workers. Migrant workers in the UK face a lot of hardship and discrimination across the span of their lives. We all have the moral duty to lessen and prevent this. Everyone deserves to be safe and happy at work.

The following are some ways in which you can ensure the right kind of environment is provided for your employees: 

  • Have strict policies on discrimination in the workplace
  • Provide training and awareness sessions for other workers on issues surrounding migration and refugees
  • Visibly celebrate and respect different cultures in the workplace 
  • Appoint HR members of staff to build and instigate best practice policies for migrant workers 
  • Allow open communication with and feedback from all migrant workers
  • Ensure equal levels of accessibility throughout the office 
  • Ensure health and safety standards are appropriate to the highest level
  • Signpost to other aspects of support for migrants
  • Provide access to talking therapies and mental health support

There are lots of different ways in which you can be an accessible employer. You might come up with ideas that aren’t on this list, and that’s great. Whatever we can do to accept and welcome migrant workers in the UK is beneficial. It’s all about making an effort to be the best we can be. If the rest is a learning curve, that’s fine too. 

Become an Inclusive Employer

Becoming an inclusive and equal opportunities employer is an incredible thing to do. It can help transform the lives of many people looking for quality work in the UK. It also has a lot of benefits in store for you as an employer.

At this point, if you are sold on the idea of being an inclusive employer, we also have plenty more support at Aspiring to Include. You can take a look at the services we offer employers. We help you access a market of 10,000+ diverse and valuable candidates from across the country via our jobs board. On top of that, we help you do it right with inclusive tools and practices. 

Access a new level of employment and get started with Aspiring to Include as a Diversity-Positive employer today. 

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Last Updated: Wednesday May 8 2024
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