Tighter migrant worker rules will reduce numbers available

Jan Marshall, HR director for the County Hall Marriot Hotel in London, told Employers’ Law that Tier 2 of the new points-based immigration system, which went live in November, will put firms off using workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Marshall said: “Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the new system is causing us [to say] migrant workers will not be a source – let’s look elsewhere. Where we might have looked overseas, we’re almost not looking at that any more. In the long run, the amount of immigrants we employ will go down.”

Many hoteliers, including Marshall, have previously complained that some jobs typically filled by migrant workers, such as those below sous-chef in the kitchen (third in command), have not made it onto the shortage list. They claimed it was hard to attract British workers to do those jobs.

But David Metcalf, chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, which drew up the migrant worker shortage occupations list, insisted employers that found it hard to recruit UK workers should raise the wages on offer.

He said: “Employers will have to intensify their recruitment processes and raise their wages to attract British workers, or keep the migrant workers they do not want to lose [to make them eligible for the shortage list].”

The UK Border Agency has estimated the new system will slash the number of jobs available to migrant workers by 20%, from 1 million to 800,000.

Tier 2 of the new points-based scheme replaced the current work permit system on 27 November.

Employers now need to become sponsors to legally hire migrant workers. Around 2,000 employers have been granted sponsorship certificates so far, out of a potential 60,000.

Once they are sponsors, employers must continually check the status of their non-EEA workers.

Migrant workers are eligible to work in the UK if their occupations are on the shortage list.

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