The Department of Economic Development has issued a consultation on proposed work permit reform for the Isle of Man.
The ‘Proposals for New Secondary Legislation’ consultation lists seven proposals including reforming the current process to a single stage employer only application, simplifying the matters considered for granting a work permit, facilitating the granting of longer work permits and assisting cohabiting partners of Isle of Man workers, work permit holders and exempt persons through the granting of automatic permits.
Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister for Economic Development, commented:
‘The Isle of Man is facing labour shortages across many sectors of the economy. This, paired with a high number of job vacancies, is creating an Island-wide skills shortage which has the potential to deter businesses looking to grow in the Isle of Man.
‘Further, the 2016 census indicates there has been a reduction in the economically active population and that the dependency ratio is worsening, therefore although the recent indications are that this trend has reversed, ensuring the Island is an attractive destination for those seeking work is critical. While the Department does not intend to abolish work permit controls, there are strong grounds for additional reforms to ensure the legislation is in keeping with the evolving needs of the Island.
‘The Programme for Government clearly commits to creating an Island of Enterprise and Opportunity, making the Island an attractive destination for both employers and those looking to relocate, work and contribute to the continued prosperity of our Island. The Consultation sets out a range of proposals intended to make key changes to the operation of the system to ensure that employers can act swiftly when recruiting to roles where they have not been able to find suitable, available Isle of Man workers.
‘We have seen contrasting views from the public and businesses and this consultation looks to strike a balance and find agreement on a way forward for the Isle of Man. Importantly this reformed system would continue to protect the interests of Isle of Man workers. The principle is to preserve the need to consider Isle of Man workers in the first instance but then to ensure straightforward wider recruitment if required.
‘This is a very important issue and we strongly encourage feedback from all perspectives, particularly businesses and associations, on the proposals and what this means for employment control on the Isle of Man.’
The Department is also seeking comments on the idea of “flipping” the current system so that rather than everybody who is not an Isle of Man worker requiring a permit, unless the employment is exempt, there would be no requirement for permits other than in the cases of a minority of designated employments and persons of a particular description (e.g. persons previously sentenced to a term of custody).
The proposals outlined in the consultation would require secondary legislation which could be brought to Tynwald after the summer recess.
The closing date for the receipt of responses is 31 August 2017. A summary of the responses will be published after the consultation has closed.