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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Government needs to pause and rethink immigration policy


Chris  Russell avatar

Written by Chris Russell Policy advisor

Even though the UK has officially left the EU, we are currently in a transition period until the end of the year. From 1 January 2021, a new Points Based Immigration system is scheduled to be introduced.

The plan is to revise the current Tier Two immigration route. This route is currently for employers to sponsor non-EU citizens into roles deemed to be high-skilled. The adapted route will be for all migrants (from the EU and beyond), who need to be sponsored by employers into mid and high-skilled roles.

The REC is calling for the Government to pause and rethink its immigration policy. The issue with the new immigration system for REC members is two-fold:

  •        Firstly, there will be no ‘low-skilled’ immigration route;
  •        And secondly, there is not a viable route for people going into permanent roles.

Additionally, with Covid-19 rapidly changing the labour market, it is not a good time for employers to adjust to a fundamental transformation in the UK’s immigration policy. 

The REC is part of the #FullStrength coalition of business organisations that is calling for an introduction of a temporary route where the visa is attached to an individual rather than via a sponsorship arrangement.

We also spoke at a recent APPG on Migration event outlining how the experience of countries that didn’t have a low skilled immigration route have led to an increase of illegal immigration – an outcome nobody wants. While several organisations share this concern, it is worrying that the Home Office’s recent impact assessment of their new immigration system did not even consider illegal or irregular activity.

Despite this campaign activity (and we will not be giving up), REC members should still be preparing for a new immigration system on 1 January 2021. For those operating in sectors reliant on EU migration, many members have started to consider how to find more people to fill these roles. Coronavirus has meant that there are more unemployed UK citizens, so considering how to attract these people to a new sector would be sensible. 

Under this new system, more points will be awarded to occupations that are on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). If an occupation is on the SOL then the salary threshold employers must meet is lowered by 20%. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is currently consulting on what roles to add to the SOL. For the first time, the MAC will add roles that are deemed as being mid-skilled onto the SOL.

This all sounds a bit technical but it is important that recruiters respond to this consultation. If you are experiencing recruitment difficulties with certain roles both currently and before coronavirus and/or relied on migrants to fill these roles, please let the MAC know before the deadline of 24 June.

REC members can help us continue to make the case to Government to pause and rethink its immigration policy. In order to do so, please respond to the MAC consultation or email them directly on Or email and we can suggest further ways you can support.