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Further engagement to be sought on proposed Work Permit reforms

Tue, 14 Nov 2023

The Department for Enterprise is today (November 14) confirming that further engagement with stakeholders on reforms to the Work Permit system will be sought, in response to ongoing concerns being raised over the proposed temporary suspension that was due to be considered at November’s Tynwald. 

As a result, this item will be removed from November’s order paper.

The proposals, originally intended to be laid before Tynwald this month, were brought forward following broad support for reforms secured as part of a public consultation earlier this year, aligned to commitments outlined in the Island Plan.

The proposed reforms included the implementation of a simplified single registration system to provide increased certainty and equality to employers and potential employees alike, and to improve the overall quality of information available to monitor the ongoing position.

Over recent weeks the Department has received feedback from both political and industry representatives and has determined that further engagement with stakeholders will be sought to ensure a wider understanding of the current proposals alongside an overview of the challenges with the current system that the reforms were intending to address.  

Tim Johnston MHK, Minister for Enterprise commented:

“The Department’s consultation and review into the work permit system has been based on the commitment in both the Island Plan and Economic Strategy, which make clear the intention to remove barriers to ensure that employers are able to fill key vacancies where they are not able to recruit locally.

Since the Work Permit system was created some 60 years ago, there have been a number of adjustments, with the last reforms being implemented in 2018. As with any policy or system, it is important that these are reviewed periodically to ensure they are still fit for purpose in an ever evolving economic landscape.

Whilst the existing system as it stands works well for the majority of employers and applicants, with consistently over 90% of applications approved within the same or next working day, and an overall approval rate of over 99.9% over the last five years, there remain a number of areas of concern for employers and employees, and it is clear there are still significant perception issues around the system for new residents and complexity for employers navigating multiple pathways.

Improving this, as well as simplifying the overall system with a single, all-encompassing portal and maintaining a registration process for all employers, regardless of the occupation or sector, and aligning the need for all non-Isle of Man Workers, including those holding immigration visas, to be registered when moving to the Island to take up employment remains the goal for the Department.

I understand the topic of Work Permits is one which often polarises views, and can be conflated with other subjects such as broader immigration from outside the British Isles, and the right to live in the Isle of Man, both of which are defined elsewhere and outside the Department’s responsibilities.

In light of the developing position, the Department believes further discussions will be beneficial to give stakeholders the opportunity to further consider the options, as we seek to strike the right balance of improving and simplifying the system, providing additional certainty and clarity, whilst maintaining appropriate controls and improving information.”

A further update will be provided later this month.


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