Health and Safety – Legal duties for migrant workers

The same law applies to migrant workers as to any person at work and this is also true even if the migrant worker is working illegally in the UK. This means that the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Regulations made under the Act always apply.

The employment relationship for migrant workers can sometimes be complicated. Migrant workers may be at increased risk in the workplace because:

  • Migrant workers are sometimes not able to easily understand English and many do not wish to admit to their limitations in English, for fear of losing their job or not being employed in the first place. Therefore, health and safety training and instruction in English may not be effective whether such communication is verbal or written.
  • Many migrant workers come from countries where health and safety standards are low and where health and safety legislation is undeveloped.
  • There are often cultural differences too, which may affect the workers’ approach to health and safety in the workplace, their attitudes to health and safety and their perception of risk. Many come from countries where taking risks in the workplace is ‘part of the job’.

Tips for Managing Migrant Workers

  1. Attitude to health and safety: they may have different expectations about health and safety responsibilities. So make sure they understand the importance of health and safety in your workplace.
  2. Communication: they may have problems communicating in English. Make sure communication is clear and effective, for example by providing information in other languages, visual formats or simple English if necessary.
  3. Competence: before they start at your workplace, check that they have the occupational qualifications or skills needed for the job, and assess skill levels gained from overseas qualifications.
  4. Training: they may be completely unfamiliar with workplace risks, and may have never done the sort of work they are required to do – so make sure induction training is clear and simple.

If you employ migrant workers, take action now. They may be at increased risk. Don’t take that risk!!!

contact us for advice.


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