The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has proposed a migrant worker tax to manage immigration.
CIPD chief economist John Philpott said allowing employers to pay to bring in extra foreign workers would help to solve skills shortages.
The government today extended for another year the quota system for UK firms bringing in Romanian and Bulgarian workers. It is also set to introduce a tougher points-based immigration system in early 2008.
Philpott said: “It is clear that public and political concern about the costs associated with immigration at current and projected levels mean that some numerical limit is now inevitable.
“But there are obvious pitfalls to this approach. To avoid individual employers being hamstrung by labour shortages, any limit or quota should be accompanied by a migrant worker levy that would allow them to hire migrants in excess of the quota.”
A migrant worker tax would ensure that employers hiring migrants beyond their quota were filling genuine labour shortages rather than just cutting labour costs, Philpott added.
Migration policy is a hot political topic after home secretary Jacqui Smith apologised for incorrect government figures on foreign workers.
She admitted that the number of foreign workers that have come to the UK since 1997 is about 1.1m, not the 800,000 originally stated.