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Mark Harper episode a wake-up call for employers, says Parasol

Harper resigned from the government on Saturday after it emerged his cleaner, Colombian national Isabella Acevedo, did not have permission to work in the UK.

In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Harper said that when he took Ms Acevedo on in April 2007, he took a copy of her passport and a Home Office letter suggesting she had & lsquo;indefinite leave’ to stay in Britain.

However, he did nothing to check again when first made a minister in May 2010, nor when made immigration minister in September 2012.

Last month, he looked again, and was unable to find the documents. His cleaner gave him the documents again on February 4 but when they were checked by immigration officials they were found to be fake.

Parasol, an outsourced employment provider that carries out right-to-work checks on thousands of workers every year, said the episode offered important lessons for employers. 

Parasol managing director Derek Kelly, said, “It appears that Acevedo was working on a self-employed basis.

“Nevertheless, this case underlines the importance of carrying out due diligence with regard to right-to-work checks when engaging a foreign national.  

“With the maximum fine for employing an illegal worker set to be doubled from &pound10,000 to &pound20,000 through the Immigration Bill, it’s more crucial than ever that business owners and HR departments do their homework.

“Failure to adequately scrutinise a worker’s documentation at the outset – even if it appears to be genuine and legitimate – can lead to an employer being caught out and facing serious consequences further down the line.” 

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