More than half of employers will be worse off under proposed immigration rules

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More than half of UK employers with staff from outside the UK will be negatively impacted by the proposed post-Brexit immigration system, research has revealed.

A survey of 380 businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce and job site Indeed found that 53% would suffer from the proposed requirement that skilled migrant workers earn a minimum of £30,000 to obtain a visa.

Fifty-seven percent said they would be affected by plans to impose a 12-month work and residency limit on low-skilled migrants, which would require these workers to leave the UK for at least a year after their visa expires.

Businesses are also concerned about an extension to the Immigration Skills Charge for EU nationals, which is currently paid by employers for each worker they recruit from outside the EU. Just over a third (34%) feared this would add to the upfront costs of employment.

The current proposals stem from the government’s Immigration White Paper, first released in November. Last month, the MAC announced it would look into how salary thresholds should be calculated under the new system, including whether there is a case for regional thresholds.

BCC has called for the new prime minister to take a fresh look at the proposed immigration restrictions.

Jane Gratton, head of people policy, said “When businesses are unable to recruit skills and labour at a local or national level, the UK’s new immigration system must allow them to access non-UK workers quickly and cost effectively.”

She added that even though companies are investing more in homegrown skills, they will still need access to migrant skills.

“Salary thresholds and visa restrictions must reflect economic realities,” she said. “It’s vital that the Migration Advisory Committee’s review into the salary threshold takes into account the needs of different sectors and regions.

“Business communities will be calling on the next prime minister to ensure the UK’s future immigration policy has the right balance of flexibility and controls to alleviate their concerns.”

BCC and Indeed’s report also found that 23% of businesses felt foreign language skills in German and Mandarin Chinese will be important to their business in the next five years, while 20% thought French and Spanish would be useful.

Pawel Adrjan, UK economist at Indeed, added: “Like in any open economy, migration flows are one way to release that pressure valve but as our survey found, new proposals do not appear to flex and breathe depending on employers’ needs.

“Communication at work remains essential and language skills in particular have become vital in a connected world in which more businesses than ever operate across borders.

“While research suggests fewer UK students are learning foreign languages, our data reveals the importance of learning new spoken skills. German recently overtook French as the most sought-after language by UK employers but demand for Chinese languages has rocketed over the past year as businesses consider future trading relations.”

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