By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent

New fees and red tape to employ someone from the EU can now cost Huddersfield companies around £3,000 and if they are caught employing someone illegally they can be fined up to £20,000.

The stark warning has been put out by Huddersfield HR consultants Pennine HR after director Steve Bradley realised many businesses are confused regarding post-Brexit employment law and what it means for them in real terms.

The Government introduced a new points-based system from January 1 this year and if the potential employees don’t reach the magical number of 70 points they can’t come to the UK to work.

Steve said: “We suspect many businesses are very unclear as to what they need to do to employ someone from overseas. Well, the rules now are the same if you take on someone from the European Union or, indeed, anywhere in the world.

“If people don’t follow the steps we’ve outlined and fall foul of the law they could face enormous fines up to £20,000.

“The bottom line is that companies need to be absolutely sure the prospective employee is the perfect fit for their business as they need to pay several fees upfront to get them. All these costs and red tape apply to employees travelling from anywhere in the world to work here in the UK.”

Businesses wanting to employ someone from the EU or the rest of the world need to sponsor them by applying for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

For small businesses the fees are:

* Sponsor’s licence £536

* Certificate of Sponsorship £199 per employee

* Sponsor fee £1,000 per year per employee

But that’s just the beginning – and it’s not even all the fees – for once companies have the correct paperwork they can then start to look for potential employees with the right skills and points to qualify for entry into the UK. The qualification mark is 70 points and here’s how they stack up:

40 points – job offer from an approved employer for a skilled job

10 points – able to speak English

20 points – due to be paid at least £25,600 per year

10 points – relevant PhD

20 points – PhD in science, technology, engineering or maths

20 points – for a job in which the UK has a shortage even if it doesn’t pay as much money

20 points – some jobs in health and education but the applicant must be paid at least £20,480 per year

Steve Bradley, director at Huddersfield HR consultants Pennine HR

The prospective employees have to pay fees for their application and appointment to a new job in the UK and there is an expectation that employers should also foot the bill for these costs once employment is confirmed.

The visa application fee varies depending on the length of the work contract and if the prospective employee is making the application in the UK or outside it. The fees currently range from £610 to £1,408 and are likely to increase each April.

An Immigration Health Surcharge is £624 which gives the employee access to the NHS and is payable on application. It lasts for the term of the sponsorship.

All the fees combined means the upfront cost to employ a non-UK national for five years is at least £2,969

Steve warns that the businesses are totally responsible to ensure their overseas staff have every right to work in the UK and can face huge fines up to £20,000 if caught flouting the law.

“The responsibility is firmly on employers to prove their employees have the right to settle in the UK so they must keep accurate records and a clear audit trail of all documentation,” he said. “If the Home Office asks questions about their staff from overseas, the business must be able to prove they have followed procedures correctly.”

If businesses already employ someone from the EU they need to apply for settled or pre-settled status by June 30, 2021.

For more information on this go to this Government website

* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.