The body that campaigns for relocating partners’ right to work said it was pleased that the UK’s independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has not recommended any restrictions on dependants’ access to employment.
In the wide-ranging review of Tier 2 of the points based system, that was published in the UK 19 January 2016, the MAC proposes to use higher salary thresholds and a new Immigration Skills Charge or levy on companies that use foreign workers as the main way to make Tier 2 more selective while investing in the local workforce. Lengthening the prior employment condition for intra-company transfers to 2 years has also been proposed.
The question whether dependants should continue to be allowed to work was one of five points that the UK government asked the MAC to study with a view to bringing down immigration levels while still attracting the brightest and best foreign talent to the UK.
The MAC's endorsement of retaining the status quo on dependant work rights is a welcome relief in a range of proposals that otherwise tighten up on the use of employees from outside the EU, essentially making it more expensive to employ them.
The MAC concluded that with only 35,000 adult dependants out of 151,000 non-EEA migrants in 2014, and possibly between 11,000 and 21,000 of them working, there was no evidence that those dependants would displace UK residents in the labour market. At the same time, the majority of dependants were young and highly skilled and restricting their work rights would under-utilise their talent, reduce their net fiscal contribution to public finances and impact negatively on their integration into UK society.
The MAC also noted that since the majority of adult dependants are female, any negative social impacts would affect women disproportionately. Moreover, while consultations had indicated that employees would be less likely to come if the partner could not work, it was not clear that this would significantly reduce overall numbers. If demand from employers remained unchanged, there might be an unintended consequence of reducing the quality of Tier 2 employees if fewer were available.
In its report, the Migration Advisory committee welcomed the evidence Permits Foundation submitted from our survey of 1063 Tier 2 dependants, which provided useful data alongside that from the Home Office and the national Labour Force Study. The Committee also briefly examined policies in other countries and noted that we had highlighted the growing trend towards more generous work rights internationally.
''Despite the proposed overall tightening and increased costs of employing Tier 2 employees, I am pleased that the dependant working rights should be maintained. It remains a key point in attracting the highly skilled people we need to come to the UK.'' said Gill Gordon, Chair of Permits Foundation and HR Director of Schlumberger UK Limited.
"Permits Foundation's evidence has been well recognised in the Migration Advisory Committee's report." she added.
For more Re:locate news and features about immigration and the MAC Tier 2 Review, click here
To see more information from the Permits Foundation on other countries that allow family members to work, click here