The government’s points-based immigration scheme has passed its second reading in parliament, despite concerns it will be too restrictive for key sectors including care, food production and supermarkets. Chetal Patel, partner in our Immigration department, has spoken to People Management on this scheme.

This new points-based scheme will come into force in January. The bill, which passed by 351 votes to 252, is the first step to ending freedom of movement within the EU and will create a framework for the government to bring in tougher immigration rules which include requirements for an A-level equivalent education and a minimum earnings threshold of £26,500.

However, the government has come under fire for pushing through the changes at a time when the coronavirus outbreak is already making it difficult to fill key worker roles – many of which would be considered lower-paid and ‘unskilled’ under the new system.  Experts have said that key workers might be ineligible and applications submitted at the end of the year will be ill-prepared because employers are distracted by COVID-19.

Speaking to People Management, Chetal said the immigration bill would make it harder for key workers to get the points they needed to work in the UK. “Jobs listed on the government’s list of critical workers such as care staff, delivery drivers and supermarket workers wouldn’t meet the lowered skills threshold. These are essential roles that underpin our society in a time of crisis, yet they won’t be acknowledged in the new immigration system,” she said.

She also questioned the timeline of the bill, noting that there were just seven months left until the end of the Brexit transition period. She warned businesses reliant on EU labour were “going to be hard hit”.

To read the full article and more of Chetal’s comments, click here.