Employers fear Foreign Labour shortage

Foreign Workers

Almost a third of small firms are concerned that the UK economic crisis may result in a lack of available labour as foreign workers opt to return to their homelands, according to think tank the Tenon Forum.

Foreign Workers

Their research revealed that 29% of small firms that employ foreign nationals are concerned migrant workers may choose to return home. The survey also found that the number of SMEs employing migrants has doubled in the past two years, with 48% of employers now employing non–UK nationals compared to 21% in 2006. Tenon national head of tax Andrew Jupp said:

“We have seen a lot of workers leave the UK in the last two months. In times of such economic uncertainty, entrepreneurs need to make sure they have procedures in place which will protect their business from unnecessary disruption, and staff turnover is no exception.”

This month new regulations are rolled under the points–based system for employing workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). According to Tenon, employers are concerned they will be unable to replace foreign staff under the new immigration rules, which impose limitations on who can be employed and introduces complicated paperwork.

Foreign employees from outside the EEA must meet certain requirements before entering the UK — these include a valid certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer which proves they will meet a labour shortage, proof that they can support themselves in the UK, and the ability to speak English to a certain level. Andrew Jupp continued by saying:

“Employers replacing migrants who are leaving with new migrants coming into the UK are going to have to comply with the new process. People applying from outside the EEA will have to get sponsorship from the company, so rather than coming into the UK and looking for work they are going to need a promise of work before they get here – it is a cumbersome process.”

“With so many people losing their jobs due to the economic conditions, there is potentially a large supply of skilled labour, but the complication is whether EEA workers will be willing to take on the unskilled, low–paid jobs that migrants outside the EEA have been doing. Industries such as construction, agriculture, and factories, are concerned about finding their workforce in the future.”

The points–based system was launched in February 2008 to ensure that only those with the right skills can come to the UK to work. Points are awarded to reflect the worker’s aptitude, experience, age and the demand for their skills in the relevant sector.

Under the new regulations, employers wishing to recruit new workers from outside the EEA or renew or extend their contract on or after November 2 must apply for a licence from the UK Borders Agency (UKBA), costing from £300 to £400 for a small firm.

For more information on the points–based system, visit the UKBA website

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