A number of overseas IT staff transferred to work at their company’s British subsidiaries are not being paid the minimum salary required, it has been alleged.
The UK Border Agency revealed last week nearly 30,000 non-EU technology workers came to the UK last year on intra-company transfers (ICT). The news sparked fears that British workers were losing out on job opportunities, as employers took advantage of bypassing immigration rules which state that vacancies must be advertised at Jobcentre Plus for four weeks.
An employer’s view
Outsourcing firm Capgemini uses about 500 new ICTs annually in the UK, and each ICT worker spends between three and 15 months in the UK.
Ann Brown, UK HR director, said: “We typically use such workers for short-term projects where the offshore individual has a knowledge of our tools, processes and work practices and is part of a global delivery team. Their time in the UK under an ICT is a small part of the total time spent working on the project before returning to their home country to continue delivery of the role.”
Brown outlined how the company ensures it adheres to immigration rules for hiring foreign workers under the ICT route.
“To use an ICT, the individual must meet the minimum salary for the particular role they are performing based on current market data and set out by the UK Border Agency. To ensure companies are not abusing the ICT permit by hiring people overseas and then moving them to the UK under an ICT, the individual must have spent six months with the company. This is soon to be changed to 12 months.
“Where there is a need to recruit overseas workers to fill a UK role because the particular skillset required does not exist in the UK, we follow the tier 2 general route, and ensure we do a search of UK and Europe before looking elsewhere.”
But the Professional Contractors Group (PCG) – which represents contractors, consultants and freelancers – has claimed that some firms using the ICT route have been abusing the minimum payment terms and conditions of workers.
George Anastasi, PCG’s policy adviser, told Personnel Today: “An ICT worker has to be paid a minimum salary. Some of our members have alleged [some employers] pay some of the salary, and the rest as tax-free allowances for accommodation. These rules are complex and need to be tougher and simpler.”
He added: “ICTs are meant to transfer a specialist skill, but when used to cut cost and displace UK contractors, then that’s not appropriate.”
Border and immigration minister Phil Woolas said employers could only hire foreign workers under the system if they displayed the appropriate level of earnings and qualifications. “The numbers are strictly controlled by the points-based system – meaning only those the UK needs can come here,” he said.