Construction industry worker shortage — is the frontier worker permit the answer?
The frontier worker permit launched by the UK Government in December 2020 maybe the answer in enticing workers back to the UK construction industry
The construction industry, like many other sectors, is experiencing significant worker shortages which are intensifying. The shortages are due to a myriad of unprecedented challenges, i.e. the cumulative effect of Brexit ending recruitment from the EU, the COVID pandemic, the reluctance of EU workers to return to the UK and the Russian/Ukraine conflict.
Any EU worker who was resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 and wishes to remain living in the UK should have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline of 30 June 2021.
But what are the options for EU construction workers now?
The UK Government does not consider many construction/manual workers as sufficiently skilled to be eligible for the skilled worker visa (and is unlikely to move its stance on this). Many construction workers therefore cannot be recruited from within the EU through sponsorship under the Points Based Immigration System.
However, would these valuable EU construction industry workers be eligible to apply for a frontier worker permit?
The frontier worker permit was launched by the UK Government in December 2020 and is suitable for EU nationals who are primarily resident overseas but come to the UK to perform productive work for a UK company. Workers must have commenced their cross border working pattern before 31 December 2020 to be eligible.
The wide criteria capture a range of working patterns and arrangements. For example, a worker who has only worked in the UK once in the last 12 months could potentially meet the criteria as could a worker who has only returned to their country of residence once in the six months prior to their application.
There are no minimum skill or salary thresholds that must be met and no minimum hours that a worker must have worked in the UK if the work they perform is ‘genuine and effective’. Furthermore, both employed and self-employed workers can be eligible to apply.
The application is free which means that the large fees associated with sponsorship are avoided.
Further, in certain circumstances, a worker may be eligible to apply with ‘retained’ frontier worker status if they have previously worked in the UK but were temporarily unable to do so due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
A frontier worker permit is usually granted for five years initially and can be extended indefinitely if the worker continues to meet the criteria.
This potential solution to labour shortages could help the construction industry secure new contracts and to tackle the ongoing project delays it has faced because of the myriad of unprecedented challenges.
Speak to us about our frontier worker product that will assess the eligibility of any person considering applying for a frontier worker permit. If an applicant fulfils the criteria, then they will receive a pack with our step-by-step guide to the frontier worker permit application process.
For further information or to speak to our team of immigration experts please get in touch with us.