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10 Oct 2016

Government backtracks on foreign worker ‘name and shame´ policy

The Government´s defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon has told the BBC that proposals to force UK companies to list or name foreign members of their workforce will not go ahead.

As a BBC News article reports, Fallon stated that the plan to make firms release the names of foreign workers “is not going to happen.” However, they could be asked to “simply report their numbers.”

According to a government source, this information could be used to identify skills gaps in the national workforce, or to assist decisions about granting companies more overseas workers´ visas.

Following Home Secretary Amber Rudd´s first speech to the Conservative Party last week, a briefing note was distributed containing the suggestion that companies should “be clear about the proportion of their workforce which is international.”

The incident led to a row over the ethics of the policy, which many feel would create a ‘name and shame´ environment that deliberately portrays foreign employees as an unfavourable addition to the national workforce.

Steve Hilton - former aide to David Cameron and a critic of the proposal - described the idea as “foreign working shaming” that would contribute further to the “killing [of] Britain´s reputation as an open, enterprise economy.”

Meanwhile, Adam Marshall - acting director of the British Chambers of Commerce - noted: “It would be a sad day if having a global workforce was seen as a badge of shame”.

Speaking on a BBC Radio 5 programme, Sir Fallon said he could “absolutely rule out” the idea that companies would have to name or identify the number of foreign workers they have.

“We´re going to consult with business […] on how we can do more to encourage companies […] to look first at the British labour market,” he explained, stressing that “the consultation document hasn´t even been published yet.”

UK firms will be incentivised “to offer these jobs to British people, which is what the British people would expect, before they import labour more cheaply from abroad,” he added.

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