Is someone missing the point?

30th of June 2020
Is someone missing the point?

Latest UK industry news from ECJ’s Lynn Webster.

The announcement from the British government outlining new immigration rules has been met with serious concern among the sector’s associations. Under new post-Brexit rules starting next January, migrants will have to meet a number of criteria to qualify for a work visa, including specific skills and an ability to speak English. Under the new system foreign nationals applying to work in cleaning and facilities seem certain to fall well short of the 70 points required.

As a short exercise in the points structure:
• Offer of job by approved sponsor, 20 points
• Job at appropriate skill level, 20 points
• Speaks English at required level, 10 points
• Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 gives 0 points but a prerequisite for entry
• London Living Wage £10.75/hour = £22,360 pa 40 hours per week
• UK Living Wage £9.30/hour = £19,344 pa 40 hours per week
• National Minimum Living Wage £8.72/hour = £18,137pa 40 hours per week
• Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC), 20 points

Cleaning and associated roles are not classed as a shortage occupation
• Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job, 10 points
• Education qualification: PhD in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject relevant to the job, 20 points
Neither education route would provide points for cleaning roles
• Maximum points = 50 points

The ruling is likely to create severe shortages in cleaning and associated job roles. Some 60 per cent of the cleaning industry workforce in London is from outside the UK with the industry as a whole with around 25 per cent foreign nationals. (ONS June 2019). This will be particularly noticeable where recruitment is already a challenge in and around the capital and similar geographical labour ‘hot spots’ with difficulties further manifested in the overall reduction in unemployment in the UK.

These workers are all deemed to be low skilled so even if they were to be classified as ‘shortage occupations’ (at risk of vacancies remaining unfilled), there is significant doubt that any role would qualify as the pay, at under £20,000 on average per annum, is too low to qualify for any points.

Companies are concerned that there is little time to prepare for what could be a very complex new system. This could bring huge changes in the way the UK economy works as well as being a big challenge for businesses reliant on lower-skilled migrant workers. The potential and theory of approximately eight million who are deemed to be “economically inactive” adults available for work is not a guaranteed pool of available labour. There are warnings of staff shortages and fears that there are simply not enough spare ‘UK’ workers to fill the gap these new measures will create.

So as not only the UK but the entire world continues to struggle with the recovery from the  COVID-19 outbreak, are those at the front end providing specialist cleaning and hygiene routines to protect society really low skilled, or less valued than someone holding a degree? Perhaps someone is missing the point?


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