Aaron Briddon, Managing Director, BMB International Recruitment
On December 24, 2021, the UK government announced the ‘biggest boost for Social Care’ as Health and Care Visa scheme expanded to cover care workers, care assistants and home care workers for a 12 month period.
This new international employment pathway for care workers will supplement the Registered Nurses and Senior Care Worker streams successfully being utilized by public and private care providers currently.
Exact details of the Care Worker program are due to be announced on February 15 but with the confirmation of this category being added to the shortage occupation list the care industry will benefit from reduced visa fees, fast track work permit processing of 3 weeks, waived immigration health surcharge and minimum salary threshold of only £20,480 per year.
With these new incentives to recruit internationally, BMB and many established recruitment companies have seen interest intensify from care providers looking to recruit qualified care professionals from the Philippines and other countries.
The dilemmas we hear from employers involve which country to recruit from, how to recruit ethically from developing countries, what level of settlement service to avail and who should pay for recruitment fees.
Thankfully the Home Office has provided directives to answer some of the questions around legal and ethical international recruitment referring to the NHS Employers Code of Practice, which covers public and private healthcare.
Included in the Code are details of Red list countries employers cannot recruit from due to stressed local healthcare systems, an agency list who have all have signed up to the Code, pre-employment inductions and confirmation of no fees to be charged to the overseas worker for gaining employment in the UK.
As a minimum benchmark this is an excellent start. What we have found at BMB is the more support an employer can provide in terms of placement fees, NMC costs, work permits and airfare – the more loyal staff are and the longer they stay with their original hiring organisations, sometimes up to 15 or 20 years, dramatically justifying any initial investment.
For employers providing higher end services or specialised care, another essential reason to ensure your overseas workers from developing countries do not pay fees is to guarantee you are employing only the MOST qualified person for the job – not just the person who can afford the job!
Agencies like BMB International Recruitment, with company branches in source countries, UK based personnel to provide post-arrival pastoral care, and a long pedigree of ethical recruitment are well placed to extend best practice standards.
If implemented correctly, these essential immigration pathways will be of great relief to the care industry with countless organisations, their clients and overseas workers benefiting tremendously.