PCG, which represents the UK’s freelancers and contractors, has been running a campaign to gather evidence on abuses to Tier 2 of the Points-Based System (PBS) of immigration. This follows a number of reports of abuse, particularly regarding lower cost workers on "Intra Company Transfer" (ICT) work permits being used to replace contractors, especially in the IT industry. We need your help to take evidence of abuse to the government.
You can submit evidence of abuse, simply send us your experiences, or contact the UK Borders Agency directly
What is this all about?
- Increasingly in the IT sector, contractors are finding their contracts terminated, and whole departments or projects being offshored.
- Contractors are finding themselves being replaced with cheaper migrant labour by large firms seeking to bend the rules on work permits.
- Instead of using the system to bring in “specialist skills” as intended, contractors are finding themselves replaced on cost grounds alone. Large IT outsourcing companies use these permits to supply IT workers to other companies. In essence, instead of providing senior skills, these permits have been used as a business model for supplying IT workers.
- Other rules, on minimum salaries, and on advertising of jobs may also be being breached – we want to find out the scale of the problem
- Whilst ICT permits are an essential part of any modern global economy, providing a useful way for companies to move their senior or specilist staff around the world, they are not intended to displace existing UK workers. PCG has reason to believe that in some cases, this is what is occuring.
PCG is calling for reform of the immigration system that has given rise to these problems, particularly with regard to the use of ‘intra company transfer’ (ICT) work permits. Such permits are being exploited as big companies use them to bring in thousands of non-EEA (European Economic Area) workers in “onshore offshoring” practices. By collecting evidence as to how this system is being abused, and as to how the system is displacing UK contractors, we hope to present a compelling case to Government to tighten up the rules.
So far we have seen succesive changes to the rules which have been a huge step forward in addressing the problem of ICT abuse. The Government's most recent changes came into force in April 2011 represent the biggest change to the immigration system in a decade and have been a huge help in tackling abuses of the system. PCG welcomes these changes and thinks they are a step in the right direction. However, in order to ensure that the system continues to work as intended, our campaign to collect evidence on abuse continues.
What is the problem?
The current ICT system is being exploited
- Most work permits require a “sponsor firm” to prove that a UK worker cannot be found to satisfy the post they are seeking to fill.
- No such requirement exists for ‘intra company transfer’ (ICT) permits, however.
- These permits were originally intended for multinationals to transfer staff such as CEOs with specialist or company-specific knowledge on a temporary basis.
- Instead they are exploited as an easy option for big firms to bring in cheaper foreign workers, often as preparation for future offshoring activities. This is especially true in the IT industry, where the vast majority of ICT permits are granted.
- We want to know if you or anyone you know has been explicitly replaced or displaced by ICT workers. Thanks to PCG lobbying, displacement or replacement of a UK worker by an ICT migrant is against the rules and evidence of this should be sent to the UK Borders Agency (UKBA)
Minimum salaries for ICT workers are abused
- All skilled workers brought in to the country from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must be paid a salary at a specified minimum level depending on the job they do. For example, Systems Analysts brought in to the country must be paid a minimum of £31,200. Any ICT in the UK must be paid a minimum salary of £40,000 if they are to remain in the UK for more than a year. This figure includes allowances.
- In some cases this may not be happening. This might be because of unusual pay structures being used, for example, by taking allowances for accommodation. Most of the time allowances are allowed under the rules. However, sometimes tax allowances are abused, or too high a proportion of the salary is made up of allowances.
- If you are able to provide any evidence of this happening, please send it in to the UK Border Agency, and to
, giving a much evidence as possible
The rules around job advertisements are abused
- For non-ICT migrants, hirers have to demonstrate that no UK worker was available to fill the post.
- To do this, the post must meet a number of conditions, known as the “Resident Labour Market Test”. This requires the firm to advertise the position for a minimum of two weeks in a number of specified locations, amongst other requirements.
- It may be the case that firms are posting the adverts, but at rates lower than that of the migrant they intend to engage, or simply well below the specified market rate.
- In some cases, firms may ask for an unreasonably broad range of skills or experience, in an effort to dissuade applicants
Can I contact my MP?
PCG has prepared a special template letter you can send to your MP, helping us take the case for change to Parliament.
This letter can be found on PCG's blog, insidePCG, with further details.
The letter calls for reform at the UK Borders Agency, responsibile for monitoring the ICT system, criticised by the Public Accounts Committee for failing to effectively monitor ICTs.
Click here for further details
I have possible evidence of abuse, what should I send you?
If you see a job on a recruitment website, on Jobcentre Plus, or elsewhere for what seems an unreasonably low salary OR asking for an unreasonable range of skills:
Take a screenshot, and compare the salary with the minimum salary requirement on page 9 of this document. If these do not match, send the evidence as a screenshot to PCG. Do not send links as these can expire.
- If you suspect ICTs at your client are being paid below market rate OR
- If you think an unskilled position is being filled by an ICT worker:
Send PCG the evidence with details of their salary and exact job title or role if possible. We will not be able to act on circumstantial evidence, so the more detail you are able to provide the better.
- If you have been threatened with replacement by an ICT if you do not accept a very low or below market rate:
Supply us with any written evidence you have, plus any further details.
- If you have applied, and been rejected for, a post which you suspect has been advertised solely as a “box-ticking” exercise to meet the rules, where it appears the relevant client had no intention of hiring a UK or EEA (European Economic Area) worker.
Send PCG the evidence with details of the salary and exact job title or role if possible. Send a copy of the advertisement, ideally as a screenshot, if possible. (Sending us the link alone is not enough, as it can expire or be amended.)
What else have you been doing on the subject?
PCG Action: Raising Awareness
- The misuse and abuse of ICT permits is harmful to UK Plc. It damages the flexible labour market, and if the UK Borders Agency fail in their duty to ensure companies comply with the rules, it could result in the abuse of ICT workers, and the illegal undercutting of UK workers.
- PCG has extensively lobbied the Government on this issue, including meeting with senior civil servants and MPs, responding to consultations, and supplying evidence to Parliamentary committees.
- PCG has also run a large-scale media campaign to raise awareness of abuses, appearing in national newspapers and on BBC Radio 4 and Five Live. This campaign was so successful it was shortlisted for the “Sector Representation Award” at the Trade Association Forum Best Practice Awards 2011.
PCG Action: Policy Success
- The Government made significant and positive changes to the immigration system in 2011 which addressed many of the problems PCG identified. ICT workers must now earn more than £40,000 if they are staying in the UK for more than a year.
However, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has outlined failings in the enforcement of the rules by the UK Borders Agency.
- PCG continues to lobby MPs, Government, and civil servants on the fact that abuses still occur within the ICT system.
- PCG also sits on the IT industry’s ITCE sector panel, which helps feed into policymakers on immigration and skills issues in the IT Sector. This means PCG’s voice is being heard at the highest levels of Government and industry.
- The situation for freelancers in the IT industry has improved significantly since the introduction of new rules by the Government.
PCG will continue to monitor the system and collate any evidence of abuses, and feed into Government policy-making where necessary
What will happen to my submission?
Two things will happen to any evidence submitted
- Firstly, anonymised details may be used in any evidence submission to the Migration Advisory Committee, the body that makes policy proposals on work permits.
- Secondly, any blatant breaches of the rules may be passed on to the UK Borders Agency for further investigation
- All responses will be treated as confidential unless we contact you to request otherwise.
SUBMISSIONS SHOULD BE SENT TO
, WITH “ICTABUSE” IN THE SUBJECT LINE
We read everything you send us. However, due to the volume of email received a personal reply to your submission may not always be possible. Please rest assured all submissions are kept anonymous and feed in to PCG's campaign against ICT abuse. When emailing, state whether you are happy for any part of your submission to made public or to be sent on to the UK Borders Agency.