HRreview interviews: Jurga McCluskey – partner and head of immigration at Deloitte

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Jurga McCluskey is a partner and head of immigration at Deloitte and will be speaking at ProGlobal 2015 in July

In her role as head of UK immigration, Jurga McCluskey works constantly with the global Deloitte network of more than 700 offices on immigration matters for Deloitte’s global client base. Fluent in several languages, Jurga advises international blue chip corporate clients and ultra-high net worth individuals who value Jurga’s extensive experience in providing long term global immigration solutions, as well as her calm approach in a crisis!

Jurga is one of an expert line-up of speakers at Symposium’s ProGlobal 2015 event in July, and has spoken exclusively to HRreview about challenges, and joys, of her role…

What are some of the biggest immigration pitfalls employers and employees can fall into?

One of the most common immigration pitfalls is failure to report changes to an employee’s employment or personal circumstances such as change in work location, residential address, increase/decrease in salary and promotion.

In many locations, it is a requirement to report certain events to the relevant immigration or other Government agencies. Failure to do so can have severe ramifications for the employee as well as the employer. For example, in the UK, failure to report these changes can result in the individual breaching a condition of their leave and face possible curtailment. For the employer this could result in the Home Office conducting an audit of the employer and their processes. This could ultimately lead to the employer having their UK sponsor licence revoked. This would have major impact of the migrant population for the employer and even greater reputational harm.

It is essential that every employer has robust reporting protocols in place and we often help clients draft and implement these protocols given the consequences of failing to comply with the immigration requirements.

How do you deal with the most challenging locations for Deloitte to move employees from and to?

The growth of new markets means that increasingly we are seeing assignees needing to travel to ever-more challenging locations. Often, the immigration requirements and processes in these locations haven’t been modernised, making the processing of these applications laborious. Here we utilise wider firm support and leverage by ensuring that senior leaders are involved from the outset. We take pride in ensuring our clients have full understanding of the local markets.

What do you find the most enjoyable part of your job at Deloitte?

The enjoyment I derive from working at Deloitte is two-fold. The first rests with my team and my peers. I am very fortunate to have such a fantastic team to support me, they are very knowledgeable, professional and fully committed to providing an exceptional client service.

In addition to this, Deloitte is a full service immigration department which serves the needs of both our UK and global client base which is made up of a multitude of businesses and private clients. As a result, I have to successfully solve various challenges from all over the globe, liaise with different clients and various case types each day. I find this to be both very rewarding and exciting as no two days are ever the same. Also, the fact that we bring a number of different service lines for the benefit of one client is the most enjoyable part of my job.

What are the penalties employers face if they are found to be employing illegal workers in the UK?

The penalties employers face if they are found to be employing illegal workers are largely of a civil nature.  The regulatory framework is governed by the ‘Code of practice on preventing illegal working, civil penalty scheme for employers.’

The Code was introduced for multiple reasons to include, prevention of illegal working, combat abuse and mistreatment of illegal workers and to clamp down on tax evasion. The Code placed a duty on employers to check the eligibility of an applicant’s right to work in the UK and references instances in which they would be found guilty of knowingly employing illegal workers together with the sanctions they would face.

The Code has evolved since its inception and the maximum fine currently stands at £20,000 per illegal worker. The penalty is determined on a sliding scale where mitigating factors such as compliance history, co-operation and HR processes are all considered.

In the most severe cases, employers can receive a criminal sanction of up to two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

How difficult is the task of ensuring continuing compliance with UK immigration law?

Compliance requirements are often centred on the reporting of migrant worker activities and ensuring the migrant workforce has the continued right to work in the UK.

The Immigration Rules place compliance duties on employers and migrant workers and it is vital that each party isgm-week-badge aware of his/her immigration obligations from the outset. It can therefore be challenging to ensure continued compliance as the onus of information sharing extends to both parties.

We advise clients on robust HR processes needing to be in place which are tailored to monitor changes in employment details for the migrant population, tracking of visa expiry dates and documentary compliance. In addition to this we work with our clients on devising policies for the purposes of their migrant workers to inform them of their visa obligations and reporting duties.

 

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