Worker Registration Scheme extended for 2 years

Despite evidence that the Worker Registration Scheme leads to violations of human rights, putting vulnerable workers at more risk of exploitation and abuse, the UK Government has decided to extend the scheme for a further two years.

In a press release issued today, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas was “delighted to announce keeping in place restrictions … which limit Eastern Europeans’ access to benefits.”

This means that people from eight European Union countries can (for a fee of £90) continue to excercise their rights as EU citizens to work and pay taxes in the UK, but, unlike UK citizens working in Europe, will have no right to state assistance should they need it.

So the worker who loses his job may become homeless and destitute, with no housing benefit of homeless assistance while he looks for work. And the woman with a violent partner may find no sanctuary. These are just two of the examples highlighted by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commision in it’s evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee, calling for the WRS to be scrapped.

The UK will become one of only five of the 27 EU member states to keep restrictions on the rights of “A8” nationals, those citizens of the countries which joined the European Union in 2004 (the other countries with restrictions are Denmark, Belgium, Austria and Germany).


2 Responses

  1. Keeping Worker Registration Scheme is perplexing, says TUC

    Commenting on the Government’s decision to keep the Workers Registration Scheme for a further two years, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

    ‘This scheme was never designed to limit the number of workers from the A8 group of countries coming to the UK. Keeping it will make no difference to their numbers. The decision to prolong it is therefore perplexing as it serves no real purpose.

    ‘But if A8 workers do not register they are denied all employment rights, leaving them open to abuse by unscrupulous employers. This in turn threatens the pay and conditions of other workers.

    ‘It would have been more sensible to allow this unhelpful scheme to expire.


  2. The Association of Labour Providers (ALP) has urged government to rethink its last-minute decision to preserve the Worker Registration Scheme, under which workers from eight EU members have to pay a £90 fee when they start work in the UK.

    In a letter to the Home Secretary, the chairman of the ALP, Mark Boleat, said: “This last minute decision, without proper consultation with affected parties, will cause practical difficulties for businesses, which have been entitled to assume that the scheme ends automatically on 30 April.

    “The government believes that it can extend the scheme because there is ‘serious disturbance’ in the labour market. However, the scheme itself is not the cause of serious disturbance. The Migration Advisory Committee in its report accepted this: ‘the evidence reviewed does not indicate that any substantial negative labour market impacts are likely to result from removing the WRS.’

    “These are very flimsy grounds for maintaining a scheme that costs low-paid workers £90 just to register and cost employers millions of pounds a year to administer. All that the scheme does is to encourage some workers to operate in the flourishing informal economy.”

    Boleat added that ALP had also protested about the continual failure of the Home Office to consult on the scheme and has requested an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary to discuss these issues. It will also be urging MPs to reject the statutory instrument that seeks to extend the scheme and asking the European Commission to investigate the legality of the decision.

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