Government plans for foreign workers

Alan Price – CEO at BrightHR

October 24 2016

The government recently announced plans which would force businesses to be “clear about the proportion of their workforce which is international”. This was later described as “foreign working shaming”; forcing businesses to reveal the number of ‘foreign workers’ they employ. However, further clarification has come from the Home Office regarding this proposal. At the Conservative Party conference, it was reported that the Home Secretary proposed to introduce plans which would require employers to reveal what percentage of their workers were ‘international’ and to force employers to make greater efforts to employ and train British workers, rather than focusing on recruiting abroad. The “naming-and-shaming” of companies would, in turn, force businesses to do more to employ British people. The proposal was met with a mixed reaction from businesses who reiterated that their recruitment decisions were based on who was the best person for the role, regardless of nationality. Following external pressure, the Home Office released further details on the planned consultation saying that employers would not have to publicly list the proportion of international workers. Instead, the consultation is seeking views on whether the government should be provided information on the proportion of workers to ensure companies are taking all reasonable steps to recruit at home before bringing in workers from abroad. The requirements under the consultation would be for employers to set out steps they have taken to recruit from a pool of local candidates, set out any impact of their overseas recruitment on the local job market and to detail the proportion of their workforce which is non-British, as already occurs in the US. The information collated under these requirements would be confidential and, once provided to the government, used to identify skills and shortages, rather than shaming businesses for relying on foreign workers. The data could also be used to decide whether to grant firms more visas for overseas workers. The consultation is aimed at tightening the current Resident Labour Market Test; a test businesses have to take when they are recruiting non-EU workers. The test checks that there are no suitable UK workers available to fill the role by requiring companies to place two adverts in the UK advertising the role for 28 days.  The company must be able to demonstrate that they could not find a qualified worker in the UK to fill the role before offering the role to a ‘foreign worker’.      

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