The Home Office has held secret talks with one the UK’s biggest care providers, informing them that their overseas Senior Carer Work Permits will not be renewed.
The employer, which owns over 500 Care Homes all over the UK employing more than 40,000 people, told affected staff (holding less than a five year Work Permit) that when their Work Permits expire they will be “dismissed from the company and will have to make arrangements to leave the country”.
The company is still advertising vacancies for Senior Carers on its website. Leading HR Consultant Carmila Legarda thinks this may leave them open to an “unfair and constructive dismissal” claim from Senior Carers losing their jobs.
“Employers who have employed overseas workers for more than two years, effectively making them permanent employees, could find themselves in the potentially tricky situation of being caught between two laws – employment and immigration,” said Carmila, who believes the conflicting laws should be challenged before the courts.
“On the one hand they should continue to employ these workers, who have employment rights, but on the other they are unable to do so because immigration rules prevent them from renewing their Work Permits.”
Their HR Director, who asked us not to name the company, revealed to Immigration Matters that, following queries on a number of Senior Carer Work Permit renewal cases, they were called to a private meeting at the Home Office.
At the meeting, the Home Office (Border and Immigration Agency) made it clear that “the level of expertise to perform the duties of Senior Carer in the Independent Care Sector does not now meet the criteria for issuing a work permit for this position.”
They further added that “all new and renewal applications for a Senior Care Worker Work Permit will be refused.”
Senior Carer Work Permits are finished
Immigration Matters has received a copy of an internal memo sent to Operations and Home Managers on 22 June 2007, prompting dozens of anxious calls from Filipino Senior Care staff worried about their future in the UK. Many of the workers have families and have settled lives here with children at school.
Other major employers have apparently also been privy to inside information not yet published on the Home Office website. I checked the IND website today and could find no mention of a change in policy on Senior Carer Work Permits.
The Home Office are effectively saying, albeit behind closed doors, that Senior Carer Work Permits are over for new and renewal applications.
With the compliance teams doing their best to eradicate existing Work Permits, the future looks bleak for overseas workers and staff-strapped employers.
But is it fair that only a few select large employers are given information which has been withheld from the general public?
Why does the Home Office continue to accept applications for Senior Carer Work Permits which will, after going through the usual charade of pointless “further information” questions, ultimately be refused?
When will the Home Office let the rest of us know what’s going on?
If you have recently lost £190.00 on a Senior Carer Work Permit fee, I suggest you contact your local MP and ask for the matter to be taken up with the Home Secretary. You can find details of your local MP at http://www.parliament.uk
What are the options for Senior Care Work Permit Holders who may find themselves out of a job and forced to leave the country?
Those who have a nursing qualification and an NMC decision letter could apply for the Supervised Practice Placement on a Work Permit Free Visa. If they pass and receive an NMC PIN, they can then look for employment as a nurse.
Married people with a working dependant spouse in the UK may consider assessing their partner’s skills and qualifications, with a view to changing their dependant status.
Some Work Permit holders are considering continuing their studies and upgrading their skills by applying for a student visa.
Bulgarian and Romanian Senior Carers do not need to apply to extend their Work Permit as they have other options under new EU regulations.
If you are worried about your future in the UK email Charles Kelly
For all the latest Home Office announcements see www.immigrationmatters.co.uk