Business Law & Compliance

Government plans to reform recruitment legislation and stop UK firms hiring only overseas workers

4 min read

14 October 2015

Business secretary Sajid Javid has announced tough plans to crack down on firms who recruit solely from overseas without advertising in the UK – or even in the English language.

With the last parliament having enabled businesses to create an extra 2m private sector jobs – and the current parliament committed to creating another 3m – Javid aims to tighten the UK’s legal framework and crack down on firms who could be boosting the numbers.

Recruiters and employers routinely employing those from outside Britain only will now be prevented from doing so. This includes stopping firms recruiting solely from other European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

In addition, the government will also consult on introducing a new criminal offence to tackle unscrupulous employers who subject migrant workers to illegal working conditions and pay.

The proposals have been put forward in two consultations on reforming recruitment sector legislation and tackling exploitation in the labour market.

Javid said: “To ignore the pool of talent in the UK wastes the potential of British people who want the dignity of a job and the security of a pay cheque. This one nation government is committed to making sure our economy delivers for people who want to work hard and get on in life.

“We will also protect migrant workers who are duped into working in the UK and then exploited by rogue businesses. Such unscrupulous practices undercut firms playing by the rules.”

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The government suggested that the proposed changes strike a balance between removing burdens on employment agencies and retaining important protections for people who are looking for work.

According to the plans, agencies and businesses that recruit overseas, for work in Britain, would be required to advertise in the UK – as well as in English – either at the same time or in the 28 days prior to any overseas recruitment activity.

Employers who want to recruit from outside of the EEA will need to comply with the Resident Labour Market Test, which requires employers to advertise a position in two UK publications for 28 days and provide evidence to UK Visas and Immigration that this requirement was met and yielded no suitable candidate.

This will coincide with reforms to the current Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), and the creation of a statutory director of Labour Market Enforcement. The director of Labour Market Enforcement will be appointed by, and report to both, the BIS secretary of state and the home secretary. The director will also set priorities for HMRC’s National Minimum Wage team, Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.

Minister for immigration James Brokenshire said: “We will make Britain a fairer, and safer place for employees by introducing new and improved protections for workers. A new director of Labour Market Enforcement and reforms to the Gangmasters Licensing Authority sends a clear message that we are committed to protecting employees and bringing rogue operators to justice.”