Petition for Home Secretary to redefine ‘unskilled’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Stricter regime: Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the new points-based system last week (19 February)
Stricter regime: Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the new points-based system last week (19 February)

Related tags Immigration Government Home secretary Pubs

A London restaurant has started a petition calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel to revoke her categorisation of the term ‘unskilled’ when it comes to workers from outside the UK, and oppose the changes to visa requirements for EU workers.

This comes after Patel announced a new points-based immigration system, which will take effect from 1 January 2021 that was labelled as “disastrous for hospitality”.

The system will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions, and visas will only be awarded to those who gain enough points.

Patel said it will “end free movement, reassert control of our borders and restore public trust”.

Historic moment

The new system will also change the skills threshold for ‘skilled’ workers as those looking to live and work in the UK will now need to be qualified up to A-level or equivalent, rather than degree level under the current system, which the Government claimed will provide greater flexibility and ensure UK business has access to a wide pool of skilled workers.

Patel hailed it as a “historic moment for the whole country” and said the UK will attract “the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential”.

Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie of Oklava Restaurant in Shoreditch, east London, started the petition,​ which had 1,674 signatures at the time of publication and it said: “Like many, we were utterly dismayed at the announcement this week of planned changes to visa requirements for EU citizens.

“This will unfairly burden an industry we love, a potential loss of not just workers but creativity, culture and diversity."

Oppose changes

It added: “We fear this is the end of hospitality as we know it. We would like your support in response to the UK Government’s new immigration laws that, under the points system, would class restaurant and bar staff as ‘unskilled’.

“According to hospitality software provider Fourth, if the Home Secretary Priti Patel’s new immigration laws come into effect, the restaurant sector will be the ‘hardest hit', as employees are largely made up of what the Government deem to be ‘low skilled’ or ‘unskilled’ workers, making them ineligible for a UK visa.

“The aim of this petition is to revoke Priti Patel’s categorisation of ‘unskilled’ workers and to oppose the changes to visa requirements for EU workers.

“Hospitality workers and those in many other ‘low skill’ industries are worth more than an arbitrary amount of points.”

Meanwhile, hospitality leaders voiced their fears on the new system and said the sector needed better support on immigration to avoid “crippling labour shortages”.

CGA’s Business Leaders Survey, run in partnership with Fourth and conducted before the plans were announced, revealed two fifths (41%) leaders thought a points-based system for immigration would have a negative impact on hospitality – twice as many as think it would have a positive impact (21%).

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