Head of Construction Skills Certification Scheme to present case to Home Office for its use in other industries.
The government may extend the Construction Skills Certification Scheme to other industries in an attempt to clamp down on those working in Britain illegally.

CSCS chairman Tony Merricks will present the case for the certification scheme to civil servants next month as part of a Home Office committee review of illegal working.

Under the certification scheme, construction workers are provided with identification cards once they have proved that they are trained and in this country legitimately.

Merricks said: “One option being considered is whether a card accreditation system for workers can be used in other industry sectors.”

He added that it was too early in the talks to outline any further measures that might be required to screen out illegal workers in construction.

The Home Office committee, which is chaired by minister Beverley Hughes, includes representatives from the Commission for Racial Equality, the National Farmers’ Union, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Small Business Service, Marks & Spencer, the Health and Safety Executive, the British Hospitality Association and the CBI.

Merricks will address the committee at its second meeting on 18 December.

Hughes said the government was determined to deal with illegal working. She said: “This high-level steering group will help us uncover the scale of the problem and encourage employees to take steps to make sure the workers they employ are legal.”

A government insider said the catering and hospitality sector was the most likely to be considered for such a scheme.

The insider said: “A card scheme for workers in different sectors would enable them to prove they are legitimate and have the skills to carry out a specific job.”

He said that by employing workers who held an industry skills card a burden would be taken off employers as they would not have to report those they suspected of working illegally.

The Nationality and Immigration and Asylum Act, passed this month, gives immigration officials powers to enter business premises to look for illegal workers.

The act also requires employers to tell the immigration service about suspected illegal workers.

Under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 a business can be fined £5000 for each illegal employee.