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Guernsey population law stifles recruitment, says industry body

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Guernsey politicians said they would listen to evidence from business bosses

The States is meeting the Confederation of Guernsey Industry (CGI) to discuss issues with population law.

It comes as the CGI said barriers still restricted the ability to recruit staff from anywhere in the world.

In April, the States said new population law would remove barriers.

The CGI said it could present data which "illustrates the extent of the problem". Home Affairs Committee President Rob Prow said his committee would listen to evidence.

Woman behind the counter in a fish and chip shop
Kim Ashplant said the extra references needed since the law changed in April had made it much harder to bring workers into the island

CGI chairman Dave Newman said the States' response "to the issues we raised in September is a real concern".

He said: "It is clear to us, and also worrying, that Home Affairs appears to not be close enough to local businesses to understand the difficulties they are facing.

"The amendments to the new law, introduced in April of this year, are creating a skills drain, leaving businesses chronically short of trained and experienced staff."

Kim Ashplant owns Beeton's Fish and Chip Shop and has been employing people from Latvia for more than 20 years.

The States of Guernsey made changes to the population law in April that were supposed to make it easier to hire staff from anywhere in the world.

'Easier for everybody'

But Mrs Ashplant said it had actually made it harder as she now needed to prove they had worked in a similar job for at least two years.

She said: "We have to get references from their employer in Latvia to say that they have done the work that we require them for … and all over the world it's not possible - people don't have chip shops.

"I agree with them having a police check, but the problem is this reference and I think that, if that was gone, it would be so much easier for everybody."

Deputy Prow said politicians were "happy to discuss their concerns".

He said: "While it is disappointing that the CGI seems to want to have this conversation via the media, rather than contacting us directly to request a meeting, I can confirm that we would be very happy to meet with them.

"We must equally balance that economic need with ensuring there are residency restrictions in place for those on Short Term Employment Permits.

"If these were not in place, the current challenges the island faces with housing, for example, would be exacerbated; alongside the additional pressures on essential services."

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