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Work Permits 28 June 2007

In December 2006, The Minister for Trade & Industry, Hon David Cretney MHK, invited Nick Black , the Chief Officer of the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading, to carry out an independent review of the Work Permit system. This review is now complete and will be considered by Tynwald in July.

The review was intended to ensure that the system in place works to the benefit of the economy and Isle of Man workers The report being issued to Tynwald concludes that the work permit system continues to have a key role to play in balancing the needs of the Island’s economy with the protection of its workforce. The way forward suggested, involves the Department investing in new ways of working and setting policies to make use of the flexibility built into the key legislation so that it has fewer applications to consider and can scrutinise these more thoroughly .

There is significant support for the use of a work permit system, but there is also a demand for the system to work effectively and efficiently. To this end, a number of operational improvements have been suggested. It has been recommended that the DTI should

a) formulate and publish clear policies on the key aspects of the Work Permit system;

b) make permit decisions based on valid economic data;

c) establish a clear system of delegation;

d) issue quarterly economic direction to the Work Permit Committee;

e) support Government economic initiatives;

f) enforce the legislation properly;

g) extend the exemption periods for work of a temporary nature;

h) extend where possible the duration of permit validity;

i) set and achieve appropriate targets for the administrative process and in order to encourage greater public awareness and confidence in the system a greater flow of information concerning work permits will be released into the public domain;

j) review the permits renewal process;

k) urgently review its IT systems;

l) provide a fair and effective process for determination and appeal.

The Minister said “I am looking forward to presenting the results of the Work Permit Review to Tynwald. I have already begun to address some of the issues raised within the report and have confirmed to Tynwald that I have introduced a more pro active enforcement policy in regard to compliance with legislation. I will ensure that regular updates are provided to Tynwald, the business community and the general public on progress in driving forward improvements to the Work Permit system in the future.”

The Review has also proposed a number of key points for consideration and the Department has attached to the report its proposals in terms of a timescale of response to many of the points. Some matters will require Tynwald support for legislative change, and the Department will provide a further report on these. These options include:

1. Amending the Control of Employment Act (CEA) Section 3a so that Work Permits issued to spouses are aligned to the validity of their partner’s permit.

2. Amending the Act in respect of the exemption categories. Rather than increasing the list of exempted employments the Department should consider including in any amendment provision the ability to make short-term orders to exempt key employments.

3. Amending the 1993 Regulations so that the permits can be transferable between employers so long as the type of work remains the same as when the permit was granted.

4. The merits of a system whereby workers could apply for a permit to work for a sector before applying for a given post in that sector.

5. Amending the 1993 Regulations to make it easier to revoke a permit if need be.

6. Amending the Act to extend the qualifying period for Isle of Man worker status from 5 years to 10 years, the primary aim of this being to facilitate the granting of longer permits without granting Isle of Man worker status by default.

7. Reviewing the definitions of Isle of Man workers contained in the Act, particularly the subsection (1) (h) conditions for persons in full time education.

8. Amending the Act to allow the provisions made for summer workers to apply to other seasonal workers.

The Minister has praised the thorough and detailed work of Nick Black and the positive manner in which his Department’s officers and the Work Permit Committee have responded to the suggested improvements.

He said “We have much work ahead of us but have made a first class head start with all parties wishing to see the best system in place. I now take the report to the July Tynwald for consideration. It is available on the DTI website here with hard copies being available at the Tynwald Library, Legislative Buildings, Finch Road, Douglas. I would like to place on record my thanks to the very good public response to this exercise, which has been well worth undertaking. I am convinced we are up to the challenges ahead on behalf of the economy and Isle of Man workers”.

For further details contact: Hon D C Cretney, Minister,

Department of Trade & Industry - 01624 682394 and 07624 453011

or Mr Nick Black, Office of Fair Trading - 01624 686501

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