MAC's proposed cap on non-EU workers will harm UK businesses
Before the anticipated ‘statement of intent’ from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is released in the next couple of weeks, to limit the UK’s reliance on non-EU sponsored workers under Tier 2 of the Points Based System, Jonathan Beech, managing director of Migrate UK, has made the following comments:
"The Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC's) ‘Statement of Intent’ to limit the number of non-EU workers in the UK is the largest proposed change to sponsored employees in over five years and will be detrimental to many UK businesses who rely increasingly on the skills of an overseas workforce.
"The Home Office has already shut down numerous routes for non-EU migrants entering or remaining in the UK for work. In 2011 it closed the Highly Skilled Migrant route and the Post Study Work route which allowed employment and self-employment, and dramatically changed who qualifies as a ‘sponsored worker’.
"These expected latest set of MAC proposals - including raising minimum salaries and introducing a skills levy and restricting job vacancies for non-EU workers to certain specialisms or sectors - will leave many companies, already facing a growing skills crisis, struggling to afford the rise in labour and administration costs and resorting to using lower skilled workers.
"Latest ONS figures for the year ending June 2015 show that the amount of non-EU citizens entering the UK actually accounts for less of the overall net migration. It seems short-sighted to limit one of the only groups that can be controlled yet is so greatly relied upon. Unlike EU workers, who can move freely between EU countries under European law, unless intra-company transfers; jobs have to be advertised to settled workers first before offering them to non-EU professionals and sponsored workers have to be in the UK for five consecutive years and have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) before they can settle or claim public funds or benefits. The number of sponsored workers who can qualify for ILR has been dramatically cut since 2010.
"I would advise companies that rely on non-EU workers, that they should advertise jobs locally and submit sponsorship applications soon before changes are enforced on 6th April. Licence renewals are expected to be more complex so forecasting vacancies and planning financially can help for applications, should skills not be found within the UK. Finally, compliance checks will likely increase so I would also advise companies to review their record-keeping to ensure it complies with the Prevention of Illegal Working checks and Sponsor Duties for licence holders."