Employment and Business Immigration considerations when Reshoring your business affairs to the United Kingdom

Ashleigh Dibb
Ashleigh Dibb

Published: November 17th, 2023

7 min read

Reshoring refers to the strategic decision made by Businesses to bring their operations back to their home country from overseas locations. In essence, it marks the reversal of the popular offshoring strategy that aimed to reduce costs by relocating operations abroad.

Reshoring has gained momentum in recent years due to Brexit, Covid-19, and the desire to reinvigorate domestic manufacturing. The shift allows Businesses to mitigate supply chain vulnerabilities, enhance quality control and foster closer collaboration with both suppliers and customers.

Whilst reshoring can have several benefits, including increased control over quality, reduced lead times and improved supply chain resilience, it also comes with significant employment considerations.

Challenges of Reshoring

One of the primary hurdles associated with reshoring is the loss of invaluable overseas workers, who were integral to Businesses overseas operations. These employees possess valuable expertise and experience, making them an asset and hard to replace.

As such, a crucial aspect of reshoring is evaluating the skillset of the local workforce. The skills required for your manufacturing operations must be readily available or trainable in the areas where you plan to reshore. Investing in the workforce training programmes is often essential to bridging any skills gaps and ensuring that your employees are equipped with the necessary expertise.

When considering the option to reshore manufacturing, Businesses may want to consider relocating their staff to the UK. This process not only enables Businesses to capitalise on the knowledge overseas workers bring to the company but also allows Businesses to avoid the time consuming and costly endeavour of recruiting and training local workers.

There are various routes that can enable Businesses to bring overseas workers to the UK, however Businesses choosing to do so should however be mindful of the local employment law legislation in place to ensure their adherence. This includes compliance with minimum wage laws, overtime rules and workplace safety standards. The legal framework can differ significantly from one country to another, and non-compliance can lead to costly legal complications and liabilities.

The role of Immigration Law in Reshoring

Businesses can apply for a Sponsor Licence to equip themselves with the tools to retain, re-employ and build their workforce after reshoring has taken place. After a sponsor licence has been granted, employers can leverage 'skilled worker visas,' allowing them to bring their existing workforce to the UK or employing new talent to work for them in the UK. Furthermore, it opens the door to the global talent pool, addressing the skill shortages within the UK labour market and bridging the employment gap. Skilled Worker visas provide a pathway for qualified individuals to live and work in the UK, ensuring a smoother transition for Businesses. Businesses can utilise the shortfall in the shortage occupations by employing workers in the construction sector which is currently in the shortage occupations list.

Skilled Worker Visas Explained

Businesses must obtain a Sponsor licence, enabling them to assign a certificate of sponsorship (COS) to a migrant worker. The COS is then used by the Skilled worker when applying to the Home Office for their visa.

Employing an overseas worker without the necessary licence results in a breach of immigration rules and right to work legislation, and you may be fined and prosecuted. A skilled worker must have a job offer with in eligible skilled occupation code for which they must be paid in line with the salary rates associated with that role. However, the salary can be paid less than this if the role is in a shortage occupation list or if a worker is a new entrant. Moreover, sponsored workers must meet the skill level requirements for the role.

In addition, meeting the English Language requirement is crucial. This can be demonstrated in multiple ways, including being a national of a majority English speaking country, possessing an academic qualification taught in English, or passing an English language test. Additionally, who have resided in specified countries for 6 months or more or having visited one of those countries within the last 6 months, will need to provide a tuberculosis (TB) test.

Employers are responsible for keeping records for each worker they sponsor and perform right-to-work checks to ensure compliance.

Conclusion: A Strategic Move for Reshoring Businesses

This approach ensures retention of experienced and trained professionals, facilitating a smoother transition and upholding the high work standards established abroad. It contributes to the growth of the UK labour force by introducing skilled individuals who can make valuable contributions across various industries. Immigration law plays a pivotal role in reshoring process and can be a win-win strategy for Businesses and the UK economy.

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