A Freedom of Information Act request has provided details of illegal workers who have been employed by government agencies since 2006. The data shows that ten foreign workers were actually employed by the UK Border Agency, the Home Office department responsible for vetting immigrants who come into the country. The Home Office itself also employed two illegal workers at their headquarters in Whitehall. In total, the figures showed that hundreds of illegal workers were employed at 54 NHS trusts and 34 local authorities across the country.

Of the twelve people employed by the Home Office, one was from Ghana and the other eleven were Nigerian. The ten workers at the UK Border Agency were cleaners while one person was employed as a security guard at Whitehall and the other illegal worker there held a chef position.

These twelve people have since been subject to investigation and action has been taken. Eight have been deported and three are currently detained pending appeal. Only one of the twelve has been granted permission to remain in the UK.

As this data was made public, Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling stated: “This is an absolute scandal. The Government has taken tough action against private companies over the employment of illegal immigrants, yet on this evidence it is quite clear the public sector has taken on bogus workers and escaped any form of censure.”

He concluded: “We have ministers constantly telling us they have got to grips with the chaos in our immigration system, yet the Home Office itself has been employing illegal workers. It is completely unacceptable and we need an urgent explanation from ministers.”

These figures will be a further blow to Home Secretary Alan Johnson who has already publicly condemned the government for its handling of immigration. Only last year Attorney Baroness Scotland was found to have employed a Tongan housekeeper who was not eligible to work in this country. She was subsequently fined £5000.

In total, 349 illegal immigrants were employed in public sector positions according to the figures released. The NHS employed four foreign nationals as doctors and 13 as nurses in their hospitals. Six people were employed in secondary schools as teachers and ten people were employed as care and social workers.

The Home Office responded to these figures via a spokesman who said: “The 12 illegal workers identified since 2006 were all sub-contractors, none of them were directly employed by the Home Office. It was our checks and the strict regime we operate on illegal working in the UK that brought these cases to light. We are doing more than ever before to crack down on illegal working, with raids taking place up and down the country every week, and thousands of rule breakers deported.”

These figures show that the employment of illegal workers continues to be a problem across all sectors. Crystal Umbrella recognises its responsibility to protect agencies and clients alike from the potential pitfalls. As such, we are investing heavily in UK Border Agency compliant registrations in order to have the most effective procedures and technologies in place as a pre-emptive measure.

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