Immigration policy recommendations risk further red tape for employers

This week, the Migration Advisory Committee published its report and recommendations for the future of the UK’s immigration policy. Gordon Irving, Solicitor at Broudie Jackson Canter shares his thoughts on the report.

Posted by Gordon Irving

Fri 21st, Sep

Whilst some of the proposals from MAC are positive, there is the possibility that employers will be burdened with an unforeseen administrative burden which could have a massively negatively impact.

Employers currently benefit from free movement for EEA workers as they are not required by law to undertake checks on these employees to ensure that they have permission to work.

If the government implements the MAC’s recommendations that EEA workers do not receive ‘preferential treatment ‘ post Brexit ( as Theresa May herself has hinted), then employers will have to navigate the Home Offices sponsor licence system to employ EEA nationals and ensure that the EEA nationals that they employ are allowed to work in the UK. They will also be exposed to the risk of incurring a civil penalty if they employ EEA nationals who do not have permission to work.

In addition, if the sponsors licence system is expanded to ensure that employers must have a licence to employ EEA nationals, employers will be forced to comply with a myriad of ongoing checks to ensure that they are meeting the obligations under the terms of their licence.

My concern, having worked with employers previously to ensure compliance with their sponsors licence obligations and in avoiding civil penalties for employing illegal workers, is that the implementation of MAC’s recommendations will ultimately have a hugely negative impact on employers. If a company loses its licence to employ overseas workers then the consequences can be extremely damaging.

It is noted that the MAC itself recommends a review of how the current sponsor licensing system works for small and medium-sized businesses and consults more systematically with users of the visa system to ensure it works as smoothly as possible.

It is essential that the government work with the Home Office to ensure that any implementation of the proposals is firmly underpinned by rational and coherent strategies to avoid yet more business being exposed to the currently dysfunctional sponsorship licence system.

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