With effect from 1 April two key changes will be made to the points-based immigration system to make it tougher for nationals from outside the European Economic Area to come and work in the UK.
For sponsored workers under Tier 2, the resident labour market test that must be satisfied to demonstrate that there is no resident worker available for the job will require that jobs are first advertised through Job Centre Plus, the government run labour exchange.
Individuals seeking entry clearance as highly skilled persons under Tier 1 (General) will now have to have a Masters degree to meet the qualification requirement (previously points were also awarded for Bachelors) and must show minimum earnings equivalent to £20,000 in any 12 of the 15 months preceding the application. At present employees with 26 weeks continuous employment have a right to request flexible working arrangements to accommodate caring responsibilities for children aged up to 6 (18 where the child is disabled) or for adult relatives or adults who live at the same address as the employee.
With effect from 6 April 2009 the right to request flexible working is extended to parents of children who are aged 16 and under. The process for making and considering such requests remains unchanged.
Employers must give consideration to flexible working requests but are not obliged to agree to them. While there has been concern in some quarters that the increasing number of people eligible to make flexible working requests means that businesses that have reached saturation point will struggle to cope, provided that the correct process is followed when a flexible working request is made requests that would genuinely compromise legitimate business needs can be refused.
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