1. Overview

This will explain your responsibilities as an employer under British health and safety law to protect migrant workers.

All workers are protected under health and safety law, whether they are legally entitled to work in Great Britain or not. The law applies the same to migrant workers as it does to British workers.

It places health and safety responsibilities on both employers and workers.

Workers from outside Britain can encounter unfamiliar risks, sometimes due to a different working environment or working culture to what they experienced in their home country.

Migrant workers commonly work in industries such as:

  • agriculture and food processing
  • catering and hospitality
  • cleaning
  • construction
  • healthcare
  • manufacturing
  • waste and recycling

These and other industries have well-known health and safety risks and can provide an increased risk to migrant workers when:

  • they have had a relatively short period of employment in Great Britain
  • they are new to the job or unfamiliar with the industry so don’t understand all of the risks
  • they have limited knowledge of the British health and safety system, or our system has a different approach to the system in their home country
  • they have little knowledge of their health and safety rights, how to raise an issue with their employer or how to get help
  • language barriers limit their ability to communicate effectively with other workers and supervisors, making it difficult to understand training and instruction
  • employers fail to check their skills for the work (including language skills) or fail to provide appropriate health and safety training and instruction

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Updated 2022-12-05