The number of migrants worldwide is one in seven. ⅔ of those migrants moved for better work and career opportunities. In the U.K., there is a large network of workers 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 U.K. employer that 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 poor experience before. You might also 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 that it helps you with what you are looking for.
In this blog, we are going to talk about the main ways in which employers can support migrant workers in the U.K. We will discuss 3 main sections: equal access, rights, and the work environment. Throughout these sections we will discuss the best practice you can follow to support migrant workers.
We will start with equal access first.
1. Ensuring Equal Access
The first thing we need to consider for migrant workers 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 we have 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 U.K.
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.
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, you need to work on recruiting fairly and openly. Often, highly skilled and valuable workers miss out on jobs because of inaccessible recruitment. Read our guidance about this topic, here.
Secondly, we must consider language barriers. Most migrants in the U.K. will have a first language aside from English. 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. Check out the scheme in more detail on this page. Ensuring our workers can communicate as well as possible with us and their colleagues, improves their job retention rates, happiness, and 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 U.K. before they enter employment. There are lots of different ways in which migrant workers can obtain access to work in the U.K. All workers will need an approved visa to work legally within the country. Some workers may be sponsored by 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 Gov.uk page.
Once an employee is cleared to work in the U.K., there should be no differences in how they are treated or paid. All workers will need to apply for a National Insurance Number and this number will be used for their salary or paid hours. This makes sure that everything is above board and that all taxes can be calculated appropriately. All workers in the U.K. 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 are worried about the legitimacy of a migration situation.
Many migrant workers are taken advantage of when they move country to work. It is important to be aware of this and to signpost your employees to further help and assistance. If it isn’t at work, it is possible that discrimination and exploitation are 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 face a lot of hardship and discrimination across the span of their lives, and we should all answer 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
- Allow different cultures to be visibly celebrated and respected 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 is a great thing. It’s all about trying our best and making sure that we are committed to being the best we can be. It’s ok if the rest is a learning curve.
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 U.K. It also has a lot of benefits in store for you as an employer. If you want to read more about the specific benefits of employing migrant and refugee workers, you can do so via our guide, right here.
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, over here. We help you access a market of diverse and valuable candidates from across the country. 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.