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Letters to January 24, 2009

The round-up of Letters to the Editor.

Act now on immigration employment policy

The bad publicity faced by Primark over the alleged illegal employment of staff without immigration permission is just part of the fallout its supplier, TNS Knitwear may face. 

Since last year the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has been able to exercise wide-reaching powers under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act to catch all cases of illegal employment of foreign nationals – whether the employer knew about it or not. Investigations, fines and prosecutions are increasing rapidly.

Employers need to recognise the importance of implementing a clear, non-discriminatory document-checking process to ensure that every prospective employee, regardless of apparent racial or national origin, has the right to work lawfully before employment starts.

Doing so will establish a statutory excuse if the worker turns out to be illegal, contrary to the employer’s belief.

Where new employees are subject to time-limited immigration status, there is a further requirement for annual rechecks.

Also, employers need to register to sponsor staff under the new points-based system which is replacing work permits. Employers worried about the status of existing employees should act now.

Matthew Davies, partner, Fox Williams, London

Rate relief is left unclaimed

If your rateable value is less than £15,000 outside London or less than £21,500 inside London and you only occupy one property, you are probably entitled to small business rate relief.

Many of our members have received cheques from their local councils for more than £1,000, and a similar reduction in their rates for 2008/09 and 2009/ 10. A total saving of more than £3,000 is possible.

However, about £200 million a year remains unclaimed. This cash is not a hand-out from the government, it is money that has already been taken out of local economies by way of a premium levied on larger companies. 

LeaseholdersUnited.com, which is run by chartered surveyors, offers mostly free services and advice to help businesses make claims. So if you want to find out how much rent you should be paying, visit www.leaseholdersunited.com.

Nick Brown, chairman, E-volve Relationship Management, Welwyn Garden City

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