Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced the government’s new ‘Australian-style’ points-based immigration system. This is expected to have some implications for British industries employing low-skilled workers.
The topic of immigration was covered extensively throughout Brexit campaigns. And the announcement of the new system follows plans which were set out in the 2019 Conservative party manifesto.
Whilst some may welcome the news as fulfilling the guarantees of the newly elected government, others are sure to have questions surrounding what this means for British businesses and the economy.
Debating the new immigration system
There has been some criticism on how the new system could create challenges for specific industries that rely heavily on lower-skilled workers, such as construction, social care and hospitality.
The government defends the new system as “taking control of British borders”. It is encouraging employers to focus on training initiatives, staff retention and automation, over hiring low salaried workers from Europe.
We understand that you may have questions on how the new immigration system will affect your business. So we have summarised some key points below, based on what we know so far.
What are the new immigration rules?
- Points will be awarded for specific skills, professions, salaries or qualifications and attributes. Visas will be granted to those who are able to meet the points requirement. Applicants will be able to transfer points from one eligible characteristic to another to make the required total.
- The education threshold will be A-Level, higher secondary school certificate or equivalent.
- The general salary threshold will be £25,600. However for shortage occupations (such as nursing and civil engineering) the salary threshold will be £20,480.
- A fast-track Global Talent Scheme will be made available for skilled scientists, researchers and mathematicians.
- A pilot scheme will provide access to 10,000 seasonal agricultural workers.
When will the points-based immigration system come into effect?
The new system will be applicable from 1st January 2021 when the Brexit transition period of free movement comes to an end.
EU nationals coming to the UK before this date will need to apply to the EU settlement scheme. The deadline for applications is 30th June 2021.
How can employers prepare for the new system?
Although the changes will not come into effect until January next year, it is a good idea to start workforce planning now. Recruiting non-British nationals post January could involve longer processing times due to the newly implemented visa requirements. There could also be new sponsorship costs incurred, so we advise factoring this into workforce budget plans now.
If your business relies on low-skilled workers, there are some essential HR functions that can help you to avoid a shortfall in staffing. These include employee training and development, retention and recruitment. We can advise on efficient and cost-effective solutions that will suit the needs of your business.
What about non-British nationals already employed in the UK?
The new immigration system does not apply to non-British nationals already employed in the UK. They will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, and you do not need to repeat right-to-work checks.
It’s possible that staff may come to you with questions about their employment as a result of Brexit. It is a good idea to signpost the EU Settlement Scheme for official up-to-date information.
HR support for your business
Employment law is complex and new legislation can be overwhelming. If you have further questions on how your business could be directly impacted by the new immigration scheme, please call us.