Can you pay your staff £30K p/a?

by Brian MacAuley on 5th November 2019

So, you’re a small manufacturing business in Mid Ulster, profits are ok but not great. You’ve just landed a new contract that could really make your business thrive and you’ll need another 30 unskilled staff members to make it work. It’s well known that there’s a shortage in the supply of labour in Mid Ulster and that’s ok because you can pull from a pool of EU migrant workers, right?! Well, you can if you can afford to pay them £30,000 a year and only employ highly skilled workers according to the government’s new post Brexit proposals.

That’s £180,000 a year more in salaries than you would pay right now! Can you afford it?

The government’s new proposals are UK wide with no consideration given to regional economic variations. Northern Ireland has a very different business profile to other parts of the UK. In Mid Ulster the Agri-food and Manufacturing sectors provide the bulk of the 50,000 jobs in the region and due to severe shortages in labour supply they rely heavily on unskilled migrant labour. These workers are paid an average of £24,000 a year and at least half are unskilled. These are the very sectors that will be hit hardest if these new proposals are implemented. If small businesses in Mid Ulster want to avoid an economic catastrophe for the region they need to act now to prevent UK wide legislation that will have a much more detrimental affect on Northern Ireland than on other areas of the UK that aren’t dependent on the agri-food and manufacturing sectors.

Can you afford to pay an extra £6,000 to year for new migrant workers?

Can you source unskilled labour without employing migrants?

Do you know that you can be held liable if your existing migrant staff have incorrectly completed their EU Settled Status applications?

If you’ve answered No to these questions then you need to act now!

Here’s what you can do:
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent public body that advises the government on migration issues has called for evidence in relation to the salary threshold. This call for evidence is hugely important as it engages with businesses and employers as to what salary levels should be set at. That means that your business survival could depend on whether or not you feed into the consultation. If you’re worried you need to submit your response before the deadline of 5th November.

As well as completing the questionnaire style response form, businesses can send more detailed information to make their individual circumstances and the impact of the proposed changes known to the MAC. Submissions can be made at Do It today.

Businesses can find out more about supporting existing migrant workers to apply to stay in Northern Ireland after Brexit. STEP in Dungannon is the lead partner on the Stronger Together, EU Settled Status registration scheme project and are hosting a number of information sessions to help individuals and employers secure status to live and work in the UK. To find out more you can contact STEP on or call 028 8775 0211. Remember you will be liable if your current employees have not correctly completed the forms that allow them to stay and work in the UK. Act now to keep your business secure.

About Brian MacAuley
Brian has been at the helm of Dungannon Enterprise Centre for 30 years, keeping the wheels turning smoothly on a day to day basis.

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