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IoM Introduces New Work Permit Changes

by Jason Gorringe, Lowtax.net, London
28 September, 2015

The Isle of Man has announced that changes to the island's work permit system will take effect from October 1.

The island's Minister for Economic Development, Laurence Skelly, said the Control of Employment Act 2014 is intended to balance the interests of Isle of Man workers with the need of employers to attract the skilled workers they require.

Skelly said: "As the Chief Minister highlighted in his Agenda for Change speech in July's Tynwald, we need to develop an 'Enterprise Isle,' where businesses find the right environment to flourish and Government is responsive to their needs."

"As part of this strategy, we need to give a much greater degree of certainty to local employers and prospective skilled workers who want to move here to take up employment. The reforms that we are introducing will reduce bureaucracy and make the island even more attractive to those interested in setting up new businesses here, which will further help our commitment to achieving job creation."

According to the Government, the most important changes are that:

  • A person who has been resident in the island for an unbroken period of five years which ends after October 1 will be an Isle of Man worker. The old legislation imposed certain conditions if the person left the island after the five-year period;
  • Nurses and social workers – both occupations where there are skills shortages – are exempted from the requirement for a work permit and the Department of Economic Development's powers to exempt employments are widened;
  • Spouses and civil partners of permit holders and exempt workers will be able to obtain a one-year permit directly from the Department which they can use in any employment. Under the old legislation, while there was an entitlement to a one-year permit, the employer had to apply for a permit on behalf of the worker, which created some confusion. The new system will be simpler and clearer for both individuals and employers, the Government said;
  • The criteria that the Department uses when deciding whether a work permit is to be granted have been revised. In particular, while the Department will continue to have regard to any suitable Isle of Man workers who are available, this will be balanced with consideration as to any skills, qualifications, knowledge, or experience required for the particular position and the importance of the position to the applicant's business; and
  • The Department will, in the majority of cases, be prepared to grant permits for periods of up to five years rather than requiring permits to be renewed annually. This will give individuals and employers much more certainty, among other benefits. For example, individuals will be more able to purchase property and secure longer term property lets.

The Department will also be empowered to exempt a person whose employment would be in the national interest.

The Department has upgraded its computer systems to support the introduction of the changes. This will eventually enable applications to be processed online.

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