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Crunch meetings as UK immigration plans spark hospitality fears

Crunch meetings as UK immigration plans spark hospitality fears

Thursday 20 February 2020

Crunch meetings as UK immigration plans spark hospitality fears


Hospitality industry heads are holding urgent meetings with Jersey’s government over fears the UK’s new points-based immigration system could cut off the island’s supply of workers.

It comes after the Home Office yesterday announced that a visa scheme will be coming into force from 1 January 2021 once freedom of movement with the EU has ended.

Although Jersey has the ability to set its own population policy, it must largely align with the UK as a trade-off for islanders enjoying membership of the Common Travel Area, allowing them to easily travel to the UK, Eire and Isle of Man.

The UK government’s announcement has therefore sparked fears of repercussions for hospitality and agriculture – two of the island’s largest industries, which are both largely reliant on outside labour. 

The UK’s post-Brexit system was described as a means of “taking back control of our borders” by Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday.

It will include a route for ‘skilled workers”, who have a job offer from an “approved employer sponsor”, but none for anyone falling outside of this category.

Applicants will need to speak English, and be entering a job requiring skills equivalent to A Level or higher and with a minimum salary of £25,600.

Some people will be able to enter the UK if their salary is not at this level, however, if they are considered to be filling a role within a ‘shortage occupation’.

While Jersey has had well-publicised struggles with recruitment across the entire hospitality sector, spanning housekeeping, waiting and culinary staff at all levels of experience, the UK only deems chefs as being in shortage.

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Pictured: 'Skilled' workers will need to earn a minimum salary of £25,600 and be educated to A Level standard.

News of the new scheme created angst among members of the Jersey Hospitality Association (JHA) – the industry’s key lobby group – which had already expressed fears about the impact of Brexit on staffing.

They have since set up urgent meetings with government officials.

Chief Executive Simon Soar commented: “At this stage, while we are concerned about not having routes for staff to come and work in the hospitality industry post-Brexit, we will be having discussions with the relevant authorities in Jersey.

“Now that we have seen what the UK government is proposing, we will have a clearer idea of how we, as an industry, wish matters to proceed.”

Agricultural roles are also unprotected as ‘shortage occupations’ under the UK’s new rules.

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Pictured: Jersey's immigration plans will have to mirror the UK's post-Brexit scheme if the island wants to still enjoy the benefits of the Common Travel Area.

Instead, it will be expanding its seasonal agricultural visa pilot scheme, which the government said “recognises the significant reliance this sector has on low-skilled temporary workers”.

Work on Jersey's final population policy, which has been pushed back many times over the years, and recently involved exploration of work permits and health charges, remains ongoing.

Jersey’s government last year launched a consultation on how the island’s future immigration system should look, which closed on 17 January.

At the time, Acting Director of Jersey’s Customs and Immigration Service Luke Goddard explained that the island “aim[ed] to develop an immigration system which is aligned to the UK”.

Jersey’s government did not respond to a request for comment when contacted by Express.

However, Express understands that the final report of the Migration Policy Board - a panel of politicians tasked with coming up with a set of proposals - is due to be published within the coming week.

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