The Law Society has today warned that further restrictions on businesses bringing non-EU skilled migrant workers into the UK could stall recovery when economic conditions improve. Law firms need maximum flexibility to be able to recruit quickly when the need arises, it said.
The Society said it agreed with the proposal published this week by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) not to change the current 20,700 limit on non-EU skilled migrant workers. Only half that allocation is currently being taken up.
The Society’s chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘In our evidence to MAC we said that given the poor economic starting point, it would be unwise to base future visa allocations on present consumption. Like other sectors, law firms are facing significant challenges across all areas of their business because of the global economic recession. It must make sense to afford them the greatest flexibility to be able to recruit quickly when conditions improve and business increases. As the MAC report recognises, these are the very people who are most likely to contribute to economic growth.’
Hudson criticised the ‘rapid succession’ of changes in work-related immigration brought about by the Government over the past 18 months as a policy which has proven disruptive to UK business.
Desmond Hudson went on to state that the government’s commitment to reducing net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ was prompted by public concerns about immigration. He said: ‘Our view is that such concerns are about illegal immigration, abuse of the immigration system and the associated calls upon public services, and the impact of EU migration on resident workers’ access to low and semi-skilled jobs. Those concerns are not addressed by further restrictions on the business migration routes for professionals coming into the UK from outside the EU.’
The government is expected to make an announcement soon on the rights of settlement for so-called Tier 2 skilled migrants.