IT contractors demand overhaul of company transfer visas
But not concerned with immigrating ballet dancers
The Professional Contractors Group has called on the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to overhaul the rules regarding "intra company transfers" amidst rising concern that the system is open to abuse.
The contractors' organisation is lobbying the MAC - a group of economists which advises the government on immigration policy - to tighten up the rules around intra company transfers as part of a review it is due to publish next month.
The 'importing' of cheap IT contractors has long been a bugbear for UK IT workers, and the perceived problem has gotten worse as the recession has bitten. Immigration authorities are apparently concerned at the high number of intra company transfer visas that have been granted for ICT workers from outside the EU.
BT was accused earlier this month of importing workers from TechMahindra and paying them £220 a day, compared to the £400 a UK contractor could expect to command. BT has rejected the claims, saying that while it is using TechMahindra on projects, BT itself is not employing or importing TechMahindra contractors. BT has a stake in TechMahindra, and is in the middle of a wide-ranging jobs cull, having already frozen wages for both staffers and contractors.
Other alleged abuses of the system include bringing staff over without company specific skills, who are then trained up by UK contractors, only to return to their companies of origin to set up an offshored operation.
It has also been suggested that some companies have been paying below market rates and using byzantine pay structures to obscure the rates they pay non-EU staff.
PCG spokesman George Anastasi said that the organisation wanted companies to be required to jump through the same hoops for intra-company transfers as they would for securing work permits on other non-EU workers. These include first making sure there aren't suitable candidates in the UK, including advertising the role for at least two weeks, and paying the going rate for jobs.
He added that the organisation is broadly happy with the way the system for non-intra company transfer workers was working, though it would like to see more "robust" monitoring of the scheme.
The MAC is expected to report next month. Anastasi said he was hopeful that the MAC would take the organisation's representations on board: "They listen to the view on the ground."
The PCG may be encouraged by MAC's “list of occupations for which there is a shortage of skilled workers in the UK and Scotland” published last year as the backbone for a points-based immigration system. This pinpointed shortages of ballet dancers, fish-gutters and sheep shearers in the UK, but concluded that we already had adequate numbers of IT staff.
the good news
The positive is that Indian contractors are providing the backbone of my cricket team
@Value for Monay AC
I have worked with both permanent staff and contractors whose skills were great. There is no difference in skill level, it is just a different mode of business.
Employees are expensive. Ask any employer. Once you add up the pension, holidays, sick, PAYE processing, health, insurance and legal responsibilities, even a modestly paid employee can cost 100k. And if he is well paid, well he might still be on your hands 5 years later. Take on a contractor and you can chuck him after 3 months. This is the most valuable service a contractor provides - the ability to p*ss off immediately when no longer needed. Want to get rid of that £50,000 employee ? It will cost you, it will play hell with company morale and it may even lead to a damaging tribunal. Remember, you can't just sack somebody - that's illegal.
Contractors answer a market need. They are paid a high rate in order to make up for the risk of unemployment and the lack of other benefits. Not because they are "better" than permanent staff. If contractors weren't paid a premium rate, nobody would do it.
@value for money AC
and there are no useless permanent employees...? I'm a contractor and some of the permies I've worked with have been utter failures but they've been in place for so long that making the case to HR to get rid of them is near impossible. Thanks New Labour.
I worked with a permie guy who finished a 'tech refresh' deployment and packed his dirty keks (underpants, for the Americans) in the boxes with the old kit he'd just removed, which was a bit of a surprise for the team who had to go in after him and put it all back in place because he'd got the config wrong and nothing worked.
If you get a useless contractor, throw them back. Job done. Easy. Getting rid of a useless permie is tricky and, in this climate, not really worth the risk of employing one, especially when they cost about the same as a contractor (they do, there are lots of hidden costs that permies don't see when they compare their take-home pay: employer's NI, training, benefits, performance appraisals etc etc.)
Protest and Survive
Now that this debate is getting enough of an airing for people to understand it and not immediately brand those making the point racist, isn't it time for a protest movement of some kind e.g:
- template MP's letter
- No 10 online petition
- a march?
There's enough of us with free time to inject some energy into this?
Looking to el Reg readers for signs of support : or not?
Scrap the scheme
Definitely. It's totally unjustified and has been used to turf tens of thousands of UK employees and contractors out of work after being conned into training up some pretty dismal staff from the Indian subcontinent.
If big British companies like BT want to use off-shored labour then that's fine but they shouldn't be allowed to bring them here first to be trained up by their British staff who're then at risk of losing their jobs.
I know some people at BT who've had to train up successive waves of completely inadequate Indians to do their jobs. Every few years, once the Indians are finally fully trained, BT decides to bring in another, cheaper, Indian company and the whole ridiculous process starts again.