Catering sector could face problems following work permit changes

A solicitor at a Yorkshire law firm has said that HR professionals working in the catering industry could face serious staff recruitment problems as a result of a change in Home Office policy in granting work permits to foreign nationals who want to work as chefs in the UK.

Jonathan Dale, partner and head of Work UK, the business immigration advice unit at Andrew M Jackson solicitors, said: “We have seen a sudden and unannounced change in policy where chef and head waiter applications are now being rejected on the basis that these type of positions do not carry the requisite level of skill to be eligible under the work permit scheme.”

Under existing rules, to obtain work permits for foreign workers the Home Office needs to be satisfied that the employee has three years’ relevant experience at NVQ level three, or an appropriate formal qualification. Until recently work permits have been granted to chefs on the basis that they have three years’ relevant experience.

Mr Dale said: “This apparent change is bound to cause major concerns to those trying to recruit within the hospitality and catering industry, particularly those involved in serving ethnic food.

“The Government also indicated when it recently announced changes to simplify immigration law that a key principle was to make the system transparent. However, it has appears to have changed its policy towards this type of worker without any announcement. As a result, many employers may have needlessly been making applications.”

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