Could labour shortages tempt businesses to circumvent immigration rules?

Dec 18, 2020


Resolution Foundation warns labour shortages could tempt businesses to circumvent immigration rules.


People Management asked Migrate’s managing director Jonathan Beech for his analysis of the report from the Resolution Foundation.

Written by Elizabeth Howlett.  Published 17 December

Read the whole article here


Employers in sectors such as retail and hospitality will be forced to improve pay and working conditions if they are to attract enough talent to make up for the shortfall in European labour once new immigration rules come into force, a report has said.

The report from the Resolution Foundation has found that sectors heavily reliant on migrant labour tended to be lower paid and less compliant with labour rules, warning that these employers would have to do more to “entice” new workers post Brexit.

The report also warned that, instead of improving conditions to attract workers, labour shortages could encourage businesses to circumvent immigration rules and hire irregular migrant workers at the detriment of working conditions.

circumvent immigration rules

Jonathan Beech

Jonathan Beech, managing director of Migrate UK, said given the complexity of the new immigration rules – which come into force on 1 January 2021 – as well as the costs involved with becoming a licensed sponsor, it was understandable why some might consider circumventing the rules. But, he said: “Employers should not get complacent when it comes to compliance.

“The sponsorship system does put the onus on employers to police their own workforce and, although it is unlikely the Home Office will audit every employer that employs migrant workers, the sanctions for illegal working are harsh.”

Jonathan added businesses that fell foul of the rules could face huge reputational damage alongside a ban from holding a licence to employ overseas citizens.

The think tank warned that migrant-reliant sectors – “particularly those with fast staff turnovers that are dependent on new arrivals” such as the hospitality sector – will need to adjust to the major change in the UK labour market.


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