Refugees offer a wealth of experience to the UK construction industry. So how can employers and refugee workers make the most of their skills?

Construction firms can access a range of benefits by welcoming refugees into their workforce. But the building industry also offers rewarding careers to refugee workers themselves, providing the opportunity to learn cutting-edge skills and contribute to major infrastructure projects.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the advantages of placing refugees in construction jobs – and the things employers need to consider…

Understanding refugee status

The term “refugee status” is often misused, potentially making it tricky for businesses to understand what it really means. Simply put, a refugee is a person who has fled their home country because of persecution or severe danger. 

They’re given permission to live and work in the UK if they make a successful claim for asylum. As long as a person is officially classed as a refugee, they’re not restricted in the type of work they can do.


Employing refugees: key things to check

Refugees have a special immigration status. Unlike asylum seekers, they have permission to work in the UK for an initial five years. And unlike economic migrants, they don’t need to prove they have certain skills by going through a points-based system.

When employing a refugee, employers need to check:

  • Their Biometric Residence Permit, which proves they’ve been granted leave to stay in the UK
  • Their National Insurance number, which should have been issued by the Government
  • The amount of time they're allowed to remain in the UK for - initially this is five years
  • Other relevant documents, such as evidence of past employment

Next steps

Employers looking to take on skilled refugees can get in touch with local agencies, such as Transitions.

To learn more about the employment process and the special status which refugees have, construction firms can contact the Refugee Council or the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Official Home Office guidance

For further information on hiring refugee workers, the Government's website has helpful information and advice.