HSENI and local councils are responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in Northern Ireland (NI). The law provides protection for overseas workers whether they are working here legally or not.

Important issues to consider

As an employer if you have migrant workers in your workplace you will need to consider in particular:

  • language and communication issues
  • basic competencies, such as literacy or numeracy 
  • physical attributes 
  • general health
  • relevant work experience
  • whether vocational qualifications are compatible with those in NI, and are genuine
  • the possible effects of the attitudes and assumptions of workers new to work in NI, or of local workers towards them

Advice for workers

All workers get the same protection under NI health and safety law, whether they are working here legally or not.

  • your employer has to protect your health, safety and welfare
  • everybody has the right to work in places where the risks to their health and safety are properly controlled
  • you have a right to know who employs you - if you don't know - Ask

What your employer must do

Your employer must tell you about any risks to your health and safety connected with your job.

They need to display a certificate showing they have Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance.

Information and training

Your employer must give you the information, instruction and training you need to work safely and make sure you have understood it – it doesn’t have to be in English.

They also must make sure you can understand any safety signs in your workplace.  They must also make sure you can always speak to an experienced supervisor and that you can understand each other.

Equipment and clothing

Your employer must not allow you to drive or operate any machinery unless you have been properly trained.

They must make sure any equipment you need to use is suitable and properly looked after.

If needed, they should give you (free) protective equipment or clothing, which should be warm and/or waterproof if you have to work outside.

Your welfare

Your employer make sure there are adequate toilet and washing facilities that you can use. Also, there must be clean drinking water.

They need to make sure you can get emergency first aid and keep a record of any injuries, ill health or dangerous occurrences - and report them to the Health and Safety Executive for NI.

Women and young people

Your employer must consider any risks to women of child-bearing age, particularly if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Also, they need to consider the needs of workers under 18 years old.

What you must do as an employee

You must make sure what you do at work does not put you or other people at risk. You should:

  • help your employer to reduce health and safety risks in the workplace
  • use any work equipment in the way that you were trained 
  • use properly anything supplied for your health and safety
  • let your employer know (in writing) if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have given birth within the past six months

What to do if you are concerned about your health and safety

If you have any concerns about health and safety, talk to your employer, manager or supervisor. 

You can also talk to your safety representative if there is one.

If you still think you or other workers are at risk, contact HSENI’s helpline:

  • phone: 0800 0320 121

You can speak to HSENI confidentially and without giving your name.

New to the job

If you've just started work or are new to a job our new factsheet for employees and employers will help.

It is available in English, Chinese, Lithuanian, Polish and Romanian. 

More information