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SPEAKER'S CORNER

KERRY GARCIA<br /><strong>STEVENS &amp; BOLTON LLP</strong><br /><br />EARLIER this year, the government stated that it supported &ldquo;British jobs for British workers&rdquo;. But that policy is beginning to damage British business and the economy.<br /><br />In 2008, Tier 2 of the Points Based System replaced the work permit scheme. Many companies have registered as sponsors with the UK Border Agency, but remain concerned by onerous record keeping and reporting obligations and whether they are complying with constantly changing goalposts.<br /><br />Some large businesses have had to employ additional staff to administer the new system. Others may even question whether, if further restrictions are put in place, they should continue to base themselves in the UK or operate from a country with a more business friendly immigration policy.<br /><br />Anecdotal evidence suggests that potential migrants have been deterred by the UK&rsquo;s growing reputation for a complex and inflexible approach to immigration applications.<br /><br />Yet further changes are to be made. Companies who wish to hire a foreign national who has not previously worked for the company will have to advertise jobs on Job Centre Plus for four weeks, an increase from the previous one-to-two weeks.<br /><br />This will no doubt aggravate large businesses who have already undertaken an extensive recruitment search. It is just another administrative hurdle, and will prevent a new recruit from starting work immediately.<br /><br />Multinationals will be further affected next year when regulations come into force which increase the amount of time that an employee must have worked for a company before he or she can come to work in the UK. The previous limit of six months be increased to a year.<br /><br />Other proposals also mean that it will be harder for employees to stay in the UK permanently, which may put them off.<br /><br />The latest changes will inevitably mean that businesses have a smaller choice of employees from a narrower market and in some cases may mean that they are unable to hire the person they need. They raise the risk that British companies will lose scarce or specialist knowledge which is essential to the continued success of businesses and the growth of the economy.<br /><br />British jobs for British workers is a short-sighted policy.