Further reforms to the work permit system

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Closes 28 Apr 2023


1.1   The Control of Employment Act 2014 (the “CEA”) requires that all persons who are not classified as ‘Isle of Man Workers’ are in possession of a work permit prior to commencing employment.  The CEA and associated regulations make provision for certain exemptions to this requirement, across a range of permanent and temporary employments.

1.2   The work permit system has historically faced challenges from all sides – from the employer’s perspective (desiring an ability to appoint the best candidate for a role) and the Isle of Man employees’ / public perspective (as a means to protect Isle of Man workers and society in general).

1.3   In recognition of these challenges, in 2017 the Department consulted on a series of reforms which sought to maintain the principle of the work permit system, whilst streamlining and simplifying the process for both employers and prospective employees.  A summary of the reforms ultimately introduced is provided in the next section of this consultation.

1.4  Given the ongoing critical labour shortages across most, if not all, of the Island’s economic sectors and the increasingly global challenge in attracting suitably skilled workers, the Department is proposing further reforms to simplify the current work permit process for both employers and prospective employees.

1.5   In November 2022, Tynwald approved a long term Economic Strategy which included four economic ambitions, the first two being:

  • Create and fill 5,000 new jobs across new, enabling and existing key sectors, by 2032, reaching an overall GDP of £10bn - By actively investing in skills, productivity, infrastructure, businesses and sectors to deliver a strong and diverse economy;
  • Further develop the infrastructure and services for our community to plan for an estimated population of 100,000 by 2037 - By actively investing in key services & infrastructure that attract and retain economically active people, supported by a range of incentives and disincentives to sustain targeted growth.

1.6   In line with these the Island Plan, approved in January 2023, committed the Department to consult on further reforms that seek to remove any disincentives and barriers to employment and support targeted positive economic migration, whilst recognising the need to improve data to inform appropriate decisions and ensuring protection of Isle of Man workers remains an available tool for the future should circumstances change.

1.7   In summary, the Department’s proposals seek to remove the complexity of work permits and exemptions as two separate processes. Instead these processes would be consolidated into a single registration process, providing rapid and confident approval for both the employer and employee.

1.8   The proposals would temporarily remove the need for work permits to apply across all sectors and all occupations, enabling the Department to provide unconditional five year confidence to potential workers looking to migrate to the Island, that they and their family will be able to take up employment and move roles without conditions or subsequent work permit applications.

1.9   A revised, single registration process is simpler for employers and provides meaningful real time information for the Department in support of the Island Plan and Economic Strategy, whilst retaining the existing level of protection around the declaration of criminal convictions, together with the ability to reintroduce work permit requirements should the economic circumstances change.

1.10   This consultation sets out the Department’s proposals, which seek to strike a balance between supporting economic growth and protecting the interests of Isle of Man Workers, and looks for feedback from businesses and individuals in order to fully inform any final proposals to be brought forward.