Permit plan eases way for employing overseas staff

A government initiative that allows
multinational employers to issue UK work permits for overseas staff has
streamlined the application process.

Both Sony UK and Ernst
& Young have benefited from the pilot scheme introduced in October 2000.
Previously, applications were processed by Work Permits (UK), part of the DfEE,
and it could be a slow process.

Ernst & Young has
processed 100 work permits since it joined the scheme. The company estimates
that there has been a 60 per cent increase in permits.

Kevin Smith, director
of work permit services at Ernst & Young, said, "We had to get
involved in the scheme. There were obvious benefits, such as having control of
our own work permits."

He admits that it
places an administrative burden on employers and is pushing for a system where
application forms can be downloaded from Work Permits (UK).

The transfer of
employees from abroad occurs at Ernst & Young only when it cannot fill the
position in the UK.

Smith said most
transfers have come from the US, but he has also taken on staff from India.

Sony has dealt with 17
work permits since joining the scheme.

Vanessa Buckley,
international assignment coordinator for Sony, said, "We have Japanese
expatriates coming to the UK and this scheme was a good opportunity for us to
have total control over the transfer of employees."

Other companies in the
scheme include UBS and Rolls-Royce. The scheme has now been extended to July.

By Karen Higginbottom

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