hiring labour outside UK seafish

Seafish has released new guidance to help businesses hiring labour from outside the UK

Guidance published to help seafood employers navigate visa process for hiring labour from outside the UK

Seafish, the public body that supports the UK seafood industry, has released new guidance to help businesses employing workers from outside the UK understand immigration requirements. 

Anyone wishing to employ migrant workers in the seafood industry, either onshore or within 12 nautical miles of the shore, is likely to need to use a Skilled Worker Visa. 

The visa allows migrant workers to take up certain skilled jobs in the UK including experienced deckhands, fish filleters and seafood processing line operatives.  

Seafish, in collaboration with Darren Stevenson of law firm Wiggin LLP, has put together five guides outlining the steps that a business should take to become a sponsor – the first step in employing non-UK workers under the Skilled Worker Visa.

The guidance also provides information on the steps needed to meet obligations as a sponsor and employer. 

The five guides are:

  • Introduction to the Skilled Worker Visa guide – explaining the fundamentals.
  • How to become a sponsor.
  • How to employ migrant workers under a Skilled Worker Visa.
  • Your ongoing responsibilities as a sponsor of Skilled Workers.
  • Your wider legal responsibilities.

There is also a glossary explaining the key technical and legal terms used in the five guides.

Neil McAleese, Head of Industry Workforce Issues at Seafish, described why the guidance is so important for seafood industry employers. 

He said: “We understand that navigating the Skilled Worker Visa is a daunting prospect for many businesses, so we are keen to make sure they have the advice they need in an easy-to-follow format. 

“It is vitally important that businesses are aware and understand that recruiting under the Skilled Worker Visa creates obligations for them as an employer. 

“There are strict penalties if these requirements are not met and therefore, we felt it was important that businesses were provided with guidance to help them understand the commitments that they are making as a sponsor of a skilled worker.”

hiring labour outside UK seafish

Previous Seafish research has shown that over 50% of deckhands on UK fishing vessels come from outside the UK, as do around a third of processing sector workers, making it important for employers to understand the immigration rules.  

Access to labour has been a challenge for the seafood industry in recent years with many businesses struggling to fill roles since the UK left the EU.

In March, Seafish research showed that 37 per cent of fishing vessel owners in the UK had vacancies.  

For legal expert Darren Stevenson, the guidance will prove crucial in helping the industry attract important skilled workers to the country. 

He said: “I’m delighted to have collaborated with Seafish on these guides. The Skilled Worker Visa offers UK seafood businesses the prospect of engaging talented and skilled workers from around the world. The Skilled Worker Visa gives rise to important duties and legal obligations, which this guidance aims to signpost and clarify.” 

The guides have already been welcomed by those in the industry. 

Harry Wick, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Fish Producer’s Association, says the work not only offers sound advice but has saved his members money. 

Mr Wick added: “These guides offer fishermen up and down the country a safe pathway through the minefield that is immigration law.  

“To get this advice independently would have cost our members thousands in lawyers’ fees, so to have it in an accessible, easy to understand format that takes you through the process step by step and is available for free, is incredibly helpful.  

“This is immigration law broken down, demystified and laid out in a way that gives fishermen both the understanding and the tools required for them to help themselves.” 

The guides can be downloaded from the Seafish website at the following link Employing workers from outside the UK | Seafish

If businesses have any questions about the guides, they can email the team at Seafish on mailto:[email protected].


Source: Press Release

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