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Jersey Chamber of Commerce

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Category: States Assembly

Work Permit Holder Welfare Review Panel hears Work Permit Policy does not protect Work Permit Holders from exploitation

Jun 01, 2023

On Tuesday 30th May, the Work Permit Holder Welfare Review Panel (‘the Review Panel’) held two Public Hearings, with Friends of Africa and the Kenyan Jersey Committee. Both organisations are groups that provide information to work permit holders about access to services and support in Jersey and provide general support to both employees and employers navigating new cultures. The Review Panel was set up to examine whether Jersey’s Work Permit Policy is equipped to protect the welfare of work permit holders coming to the Island to live and work.

The Panel asked both groups' questions about work permit holder recruitment, the availability of information about Jersey and access to support, the Work Permit Policy, the Jersey Immigration Rules, accommodation, working conditions and supplementary employment. The Panel also asked questions about taxation and payment of Long-Term Care and Social Security Contributions.

Key issues that were shared by both organisations included: 

•    Both groups expressed concern that the Work Permit Policy does not protect work permit holders from exploitation and ‘Modern-Day Slavery’, referencing the restrictions placed on work permit holders by the policy, which does not permit work permit holders to switch employers or to take up part time work throughout the period of their contract.

•    For work permit holders coming to the Island, there is not enough information or support provided on what to expect when they get here. Both organisations explained how they fill gaps in the support and information available to work permit holders in Jersey.

•    A need for closer working relationships between Government Departments that provide services that are accessed by work permit holders. 

•    The Panel heard issues related to the calculation of work permit holder tax and Long-Term Care contributions and how this impacts work permit holders.

•    In terms of access to healthcare in Jersey, the Kenyan Jersey Committee provided examples of some of the issues related to information about healthcare and access.

•    The Panel heard about issues related to accommodation, including the type and nature of accommodation occupied by work permit holders.

Both organisations did however point to some positives. Friends of Africa said the Work Permit Policy is ‘a start’ but needs to be improved, with government departments working together to do so. They argued that there is now a better general awareness of the difficulties being faced, and the Kenyan Jersey Committee noted that there are employers with good working practices on the Island. 

Chair of the Review Panel, Deputy Beatriz Poree said: ‘Hearing from these two organisations was hard-hitting. We are thankful for their views, but it is evident from these hearings that a great deal of work still needs to be done to make the Work Permit Policy fit for purpose. We are encouraged, however, that we are moving in the right direction and that all the evidence we have gathered so far will help to inform decisions to help protect the welfare of work permit holders in Jersey in the future. We still encourage all those who have evidence to contribute to the review to come forward by emailing [email protected] or speaking to a panel member directly.’ 

Recordings of the hearings can be accessed via Public-i

States of Jersey News Release.

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