According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), a number of small employers do not think they will be able to meet the new visa fees for EU workers.
The current system
The cost of sponsoring someone for a Tier 2 visa is currently in excess of £3,000 for a small employer, which the FSB says would make the cost of sponsoring prohibitively expensive if it were to be transferred to the new points-based system.
The new system
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recently published details of how the new immigration system might look. This includes a minimum salary threshold, which has the potential to cause problems for a number of businesses that use lower-paid employees.
The FSB says that one in ten small businesses would either have to drastically change their business model or would have to close altogether. This means, for example, that an organisation that pays employees to convert PDF to Excel might have to make these employees redundant, which is a business cost in itself, or try to redeploy them if they were to move to an automated system such as https://pdftables.com/.
Although the Home Office is trying to move employers away from an immigration-based system, it is a concern for employers who find it hard to get native British workers to do lower-paid work. The FSB report said that 38 per cent of small business reported finding it difficult to employ the right staff over the past year, with 35 per cent saying this was due to this reluctance of the British to work in their sector.
The chairman of the FSB, Mike Cherry, said it is critical that the government gets the new system right or there is a risk that businesses will close. According to the managing director of Migrate UK, Jonathan Beech, the number of organisations holding a licence to sponsor Tier 2 visas has already gone up to 31,000. He expects this to continue to rise alongside the cost of employing foreign workers.
Beech expects the government to introduce measures to stop employers from relying on sponsorship. It seems the future is looking uncomfortable for small employers and it may be some time before they have any certainty as to how things will work in practice.