‘Intra Company Transfer’ work permits have received much negative press of late owing to their reputation for displacing skilled workers, including IT contractors. The government is being advised on this issue by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) but is choosing to take a tougher stance than the MAC is recommending. They have advised that all that is required is for the existing rules to be more stringently enforced. However, the government have over-ridden this advice and decided to ban the use of ICT to replace a UK worker.
Managing Director of the Professional Contractors Group (PCG), John Brazier commented in a press release: “The government is to be congratulated on taking a tougher line on the ICTs than the MAC recommendations, exactly what PCG has been calling for. This new measure seems to send a clear signal to those abusing the system: replacing highly skilled contractors with ICT workers will no longer be tolerated.”
He continued: “However, the new rules are still too vague and we will be seeking clarification from the government on their exact implications. It must be totally clear that firms cannot work round the system and seek loopholes.”
MAC has advised the government that they should lengthen the time an ICT migrant has worked for the company, from 6 months to 12 months, prior to being able to work in the UK.
As it stands, ICTs are the simplest work permits to acquire as there is no requirement on the company to prove that the position could be filled by a worker in the UK. Companies can, and often do, transfer in thousands of workers at a time. Currently 65% of ICT permits are for the IT sector.
Speaking about the MAC report, John Brazier said: “These additional changes, though welcome, simply do not go far enough. It is certainly true that the government needs to take a harder line on enforcement, and we strongly urge that they do so, but we wanted to see the MAC come up with more specific measure to protect the UK’s freelance workforce.”
He concluded, “Freelancers are key to the UK’s future economic recovery, and we will continue to campaign hard for more stringent ICT rules.”