Even in the healthiest of economies, the care sector has suffered under the weight of staffing crises. This can be attributed to a number of things, including the high cost of hiring skilled care workers, significant employee turnover, a shortage of qualified profes- sionals…and now the looming post-Brexit immigration points system which will go into effect January 2021.
These changes are expect- ed to significantly impair care homes’ ability to hire appli- cants from outside the UK.
The outlined changes have been designed to ensure that immigrant workers aren’t being hired
when nationals can fill positions. It’s also intended to ensure that migrants are only admitted for employment purposes if there’s a proven need for their skills. With so many care providers on the edge due to Covid-19 and an ongoing labour shortage, there’s understandable worry that it will be difficult to fill positions, particularly if care managers are suffocating under a pile of red tape.
Many factors are unknown at this time. Workers’ visas that care homes thought would have already expired are being extended in response to the Covid-19 travel ban and increased demand for frontline healthcare workers. But when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, care homes will have a brand-new hiring landscape to navigate.
There are currently no restrictions on people from the EU or Switzerland working in Britain. However, as of January 2021, skilled workers from those areas will join migrants from all over the world in needing visas. They will also need to meet skilled worker criteria—and there must be a job offer, as well as a wage threshold.
Skilled migrant workers have always played a massive role in the UK’s economic recoveries. And for this reason, it’s in every care home’s best interest to start planning to bring these professionals into the coun- try now.
HOW TO HIRE OVERSEAS WORKERS?
The first step care homes should take is to acquire a sponsor license, and that application should be completed as soon as possible. Only a small percentage of UK businesses currently hold this license, and a rush is expected during the second half of 2020. This will allow for par- ticipation in the points system for hiring abroad, including European workers (who will need visas post-Brexit).
Long-term job offers will be covered by UK immigration route under Tier 2 on the sponsor license application. After the application is received, a UK Visa and Immigration compliance officer may visit the care facility to review the application, ensure that systems for managing sponsored workers are in place and that there have been no potential breaches of laws or sponsorships.. There will be licensing and issuing fees, as well as an Immigration Skills Charge.
If successful, businesses are then obliged to maintain an ongoing compliance system which involves:
• Updating the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). This is an online system provided by UKVI.
• Keeping records of checks undertaken. These include verifying foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications, and professional
• Conducting a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) to ensure no settled
worker can fulfil the role.
• Ongoing monitoring of sponsored employees, including attendance and
changes in contact details.
• Advising UKVI of any non-compliance by sponsored workers.
Sponsor licence holders are also required to appoint individuals to key roles. They need an authorising officer, a key contact and someone to undertake day-to-day management of the SMS.
After employment (which will be subject to restrictions) is offered to a candidate, a CoS (Certificate of Sponsorship) must be requested from the Home Office.
As complicated as it may seem, some previous rules will be relaxed starting in 2021. There will no longer be a cap on skilled migrant profes- sionals, there will be no need to run a recruitment exercise to test resi- dent labour market (also known as RLMT) , and the minimum salary will be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600.
With this new landscape taking shape, many care homes are asking how they can competitively recruit, particularly when a skilled immi- grant can enter other countries with less waiting and effort. Unless the system is significantly streamlined, it will be up to care homes to make sign-on packages attractive enough to strike a balance. That means looking ahead to expected vacancies, filling positions before Brexit immigration laws go into effect, studying the competition and what they’re offering, moving immediately toward completion of that sponsor license application…and seeking out legal guidance for navigating immi- gration, post-Brexit.