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Committee for Home Affairs relaxes two-year 'relevant experience' rule to further support businesses recruit to short-term employment permit roles

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Thursday 21 December 2023

The Committee for Home Affairs has relaxed a rule requiring staff coming to the island on short-term employment permits to have two years of relevant work experience in the role they are coming to do.

These staff now need to demonstrate they have been in continuous employment for the last two years immediately prior to the application for the short-term employment permit (STEPS); this can be in any role.

The Committee revisited the 'relevant experience' requirement following representations from industry stakeholders.

Relevant background

As a consequence of Brexit, the majority of European Union nationals are now subject to immigration control and require UK visa entry clearance. This impacted on the ability of businesses to recruit. As part of its work to deliver on the ambitions of the Population and Immigration Policy Review agreed by the States Assembly, the Committee introduced a new combined Population Immigration Policy framework in April 2023. This provided employers with significant opportunities to recruit from across the globe.

Previously, Rest of World nationals did not qualify for a visa if they were seeking to come to the island to carry out roles gaining a short-term employment permit. The new combined Population Immigration Policy framework opened up STEPs to every nationality and created a single, joint policy to help widen the recruitment pool.

While the new combined policy framework has only been in place for eight months, early indications are that businesses are benefiting from the change. However, some concerns were raised about the two-year 'relevant experience' requirement, with the suggestion being that it presented a barrier to recruitment.

Combined Population Immigration Policy - Experience Requirement

Every nationality can now access all the roles included in the Employment Permit Policy, whether they gain short-term employment permits or long-term employment permits. To enable this single policy and ensure equality between EU and ROW nationals, a minimum two-years' relevant experience requirement was introduced for all migrant workers in STEP roles.

As a result of representations from industry the Committee revisited the 'relevant experience' requirement. In reviewing this requirement, the Committee accepted that demonstrating relevant experience for some roles can be difficult and arguably somewhat arbitrary. Further, it acknowledged that it is in the interests of Guernsey employers to only recruit individuals who can evidence a good work ethic and character, particularly given the investment on the part of the employer to recruit individuals from the ROW.

Deputy Rob Prow, President of the Committee for Home Affairs, said:

'The Committee has reviewed the two-year relevant experience requirement and has agreed to simplify it with immediate effect. Previously an individual for whom a STEP was being sought must have demonstrated two years of relevant experience for the role in which they were coming to the island to take. However, from now an individual in that scenario must be able to demonstrate continuous employment for the last two years immediately prior to the application; this can be in any role.  There remains the requirement that some roles, such as those in healthcare, also need to hold specific qualifications.  This policy will be reviewed no later than the end of the second quarter in 2024.

'The Committee considered that this relaxation was justified and proportionate noting that the requirement for overseas police checks and adverse immigration history checks remain. Considering the other mitigation in place, the Committee is of the view that the simplified experience will further assist businesses who are struggling to recruit staff, while appropriately balancing Guernsey's responsibilities as a Common Travel Area member, by ensuring that those who come to our island are doing so to be productive members of society and do not pose a risk to the security of the Bailiwick.

'Our Committee has always said that we listen to industry and do whatever we can to help them secure the staff they need. This change is the latest example of that commitment.'

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