Cable calls for 'cooling off period' to be reconsidered

23 May 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Business secretary Vince Cable is calling for the UK immigration minister Damian Green to reconsider the introduction of a “cooling off period” for UK work permit applicants.

The new immigration rule, introduced last month, forces overseas workers to spend a year outside of the UK if they want to switch between temporary UK work permits and a permanent visa.

In practice, this means that staff on inter-company transfer work permits cannot switch from a set contract to a position of permanent employment; something that business leaders are concerned will stunt growth within the UK economy and labour market.

Officials from Mr Cable's business department are discussing the issue with the Home Office after receiving a number of complaints from companies claiming that the rule is holding them back.

Paul Smith, chairman of recruiting consultancy Harvey Nash, told the Financial Times that the rule would “turn border control staff into business prevention officers”. He added: “When you bring someone in as an inter-company transfer and then want to promote them, you have to send them back for a year … is all totally unnecessary.”

Mr Green has retorted that the ICT route is not supposed to be used as a method of filling vacancies that could be offered to the local workforce. He elaborated: “We need to wean UK employers off their addiction to migration and clamp down on backdoor routes used to avoid our tighter controls.”