New longer work permits expected

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NEW 12-month work permits for the hospitality sector – renewable for up to three years – are due to be introduced to combat crippling staff shortages, the Home Affairs Minister has confirmed.

Deputy Helen Miles told the States Assembly yesterday that post-Brexit regulations, which meant migrant workers required visas to work in the Island, were being reassessed following desperate pleas from some industries.

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, EU nationals lost the right to live and work in Jersey without a visa, which led to the introduction of nine-month work permits for the agriculture, hospitality and fishing industries, as well as three-year ‘skilled worker’ permits.

Deputy Miles, responding to a question from Deputy Lyndon Farnham, said: ‘When it comes to work-permit policy, I and my officers have been very carefully considering changes that might need to be made in light of the challenges being faced by employers and employees across some sectors.

‘When our work-permit policy was developed in the early 1980s, it was designed to keep people out and make sure that people did not come to Jersey and gain their housing qualifications and stay too long and take jobs away from local residents. Clearly, we are in a very different position now.

‘But it is important that we strike the right balance between enabling appropriate and necessary migration into the Island but also ensuring the security of our borders because we are an entry point into the Common Travel Area.’

She added that the question of staff shortages had been an issue that had been brought up on numerous occasions during last year’s general-election campaign, with employers feeling that the nine-month work permit policy did not ‘work well for them’.

‘It is the case for those sectors to present me with a robust business case to consider changing our work-permit rules,’ the minister added.

‘The hospitality industry has done that and the work-permit policy is currently evolving. I do anticipate making some amendments to the work-permit policy for both the hospitality and agricultural sectors.

‘Labour shortages across the hospitality sector have resulted in a review of our temporary hospitality work-permit route and my intention is to introduce 12-month temporary hospitality permits that can be extended on a yearly basis up to a maximum period of three years.

‘At the end of that work-permit period, the employee will be expected to leave the Island for a period equal to the time that they have spent in Jersey under work-permit conditions.’

Deputy Miles, in a response to a follow-up question from Deputy Farnham, indicated that the new policy could be in place in time for the upcoming summer tourism season.

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