Refugees to face further barriers to working and volunteering - Refugee Council
August 30, 2012

Refugees to face further barriers to working and volunteering

by James, Advocacy team volunteer

Here James breaks down the changes to checks that will make it even harder for refugees and asylum seekers to work or volunteer, as of this week:

The Home Office has proposed changes to background checks for people applying to work or volunteer with vulnerable people, which are set to come into force on 31st August.  The new regime could place refugees and asylum seekers at increased risk of unemployment, even in fields where they may already be qualified.

What is a CRB?
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) is the Home Office body that checks the background of individuals for any criminal history.  Such checks are undertaken to ensure vulnerable people are not subjected to increased risk, and the number of agencies using them has been growing steadily over the past decade.  In 2011, approximately three million CRB checks were requested from both private and government agencies.

The identification process as it stands
Currently, any person that wants to apply for a job where they would be working with vulnerable people (e.g. schools, mental health, and security) would be expected to supply a document such as their passport or driver’s licence.  If this is not possible, a person can substitute documents from a ‘supplementary’ list, including bank statements, NHS cards and so on.

How this will change
As of August 31st, a new, ‘enhanced’ process will be used in ways that make it harder for refugees and asylum seekers to apply for these jobs.  For instance, Individuals must now provide a document from a smaller list: a passport, driver’s licence, Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and Birth Certificate (for UK Subjects).

How this unfairly discriminates against refugees and asylum seekers
Whether they have a criminal record or not, they will be at a disadvantage, as it is likely they will be unable to produce the listed documents. Those seeking asylum often do so without the knowledge of their government, and frequently travel either without the ability to apply for identity documents or the safety of applying without being put in danger of further persecution.  Asylum seekers rely on Application Registration Cards (ARCs), or, after a successful claim, Convention Travel Documents for identification purposes, both of which are excluded from the new regime.

The result? Poor prospects and increased cost…
Those who come to Britain fleeing persecution may find themselves unable to use valuable skills they may have learned before coming to this country, and therefore find themselves out of work and relying on the state for support. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work, but are often able to contribute their skills and talents by volunteering. Its likely many will also lose out on the opportunity as a result of this policy change.

See a full briefing about the changes on our website.