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Employing staff from overseas

The Government recently suggested that non-European Union skilled workers could be the solution to many of the skills shortages across UK industry.

It’s particularly relevant in the automotive industry, which suffers a skills gap in a number of roles, especially technicians. Several employers have already started to look outside the UK to fill vacancies. But with hiring a foreign worker come new responsibilities.

An organization needs to be equipped to deal with hard issues, such as contracts, work permits and pay, as well as soft issues that may include employment for the worker’s partner and schooling for the children.

After finding a suitable candidate for a role, the company must take steps to secure a work permit.

“Individuals cannot apply for a work permit on their own behalf,” says a spokesman for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

“Work permits are issued in respect of specific posts and it is the responsibility of the prospective employer to make the application on behalf of the person they wish to employ.”

Employers must be able to prove that there is a genuine vacancy, what skills/qualifications are needed to fill it and that the candidate has these. They must also state whether there are qualified resident workers available to do the job.

A fair relocation package should be offered by the employer that includes travel costs, temporary accommodation, cost of shipping possessions and return trips to the home country.

Foreign workers are entitled to receive the same wages and conditions as UK employees doing the same job, while the terms of employment must be in accordance with UK legislation – foreign workers should not be exploited as cheap labour.

With respect to tax, the CIPD advises that organizations should seek expert advice before drawing up a contract.

Managers and other staff in the company should be trained to communicate effectively with people coming from different cultures, who may have different attitudes to work and communication styles.

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