Shortage occupation list – additions needed?:  The government is under pressure from business organisations to widen the scope of the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL), so that a broader range of workers can be brought in from overseas.

We are keen to hear from members, in confidence, as to categories where they believe the SOL should be changed to allow them to bring in workers on visas.  Similarly, if you think the list is too broadly-based, we’d be keen to hear.  Your information will enable us to make representations to government, where appropriate.

You can find out more about the current lists, which already include some engineering occupations at

If you have any particular issues that you would like to raise, please contact Jack Semple (email:  [email protected]) directly.


Right to flexible working:  The government is to extend the right to request flexible working, so that it will be “available from day one”.  Announcing the change, BEIS said that “workers to have a greater say over when, where, and how they work under new government plans to make flexible working the default”.   The right to request flexible working is currently available after 26 weeks’ employment.

The change was a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commitment and was subject to consultation a year ago.  It goes beyond EU employment rights.

Since Covid, there has been huge market pressure on employers to offer employees some form of flexible working, whether on hours, the ability to work at home, or a combination of the two.  For example, one large accountancy firm now has the right to work abroad, anywhere in the world, for up to two months’ a year.

Comment:  EAMA has noted that young people may be reluctant to enter a career in which they are likely to have to go to work at certain fixed hours at one or more places.  Extra effort and imagination may be required to attract and retain workers to sectors such as manufacturing and advanced engineering.  Some SMEs have adopted a policy that, basically, everyone comes to work, in order to maintain a unified company culture.

We would welcome members’ views, in confidence, on this regulatory change and related issues.  Again, please send any feedback directly to Jack Semple (email:  [email protected]).

You can find relevant information on at and the BBC report is available at


Starmer rules our freedom of movement:  Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has ruled out a return to freedom of movement, the EU Single Market requirement that made it easy for millions of European workers to come to the UK (and for UK citizens to work in the EU).  Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling-up secretary, reportedly said that she could see no route back to free movement.  There was no appetite in the EU, she said.

Freedom of movement is also a non-starter for the current government.  Both parties want to see firms invest in UK skills.


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