Disappointment at the findings of the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC)

21 Aug

We were to be frank disappointed at the findings of the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) Report on the abuse of the Work Permit system.  This is a serious issue for the freelance community, with livelihoods challenged by what can only be described as blatant abuse of the system by large companies.  “Intra Company Transfer” (ICT) abuse leads to the displacement of skilled resident workers, such as IT contractors and Engineers and the unlevel playing field created, if not dealt with swiftly and effectively, will have far reaching effects on the freelance marketplace and more broadly long term UK competitiveness.

Instead of tackling the issue head on and tightening the rules to limit the use of ICT permits in the recession, the MAC simply called for stronger enforcement of the current rules.   In their report MAC did, however, underpin our concern at abuses and recommended that more resources are deployed enforcing the current rules – something PCG originally called for as part of its submission to the body.  The MAC also suggested changes to the way ICT migrants are paid, and recommended that ICT migrants should have worked for their company for 12 months prior to working in the UK rather than six as now. 

More encouragingly the Government is set to go one step further than this and now forbids the use of ICT permits where they will be directly replacing a settled UK worker, exactly what the PCG has been asking 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.  However, the new rules are still too vague and we will now need clarification from the Government on their exact implications.  It must be totally clear that firms cannot work round the system and seek loopholes.

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