Guernsey’s new population management regime will make it easier for the Island to attract skilled, working professionals in the face of an aging population, according to specialists at Carey Olsen.

Partner Elaine Gray and senior associate Rachel Richardson addressed a group of senior management and HR practitioners on the implications of the new population regime and what it will mean for employers.

Draft legislation was approved by the States of Guernsey in March this year and is due to come into force in April 2017. The new regime represents a complete shift in approach: instead of controlling the housing people that can live in, it will focus on managing Guernsey's population, mainly through the use of employment permits.

The Population Management (Guernsey) Law, 2016 will see long-term, medium-term and short-term permits introduced for people wanting to come to Guernsey to work.

Long-term permits will be issued for up to eight years to address persistent and enduring skills shortages. Medium-term permits will be issued for up to five years where particular roles require specific skills not available locally at present, but likely to be available in the future. Short-term permits will be issued for up to one year for unskilled roles but where there is a need for additional manpower which cannot be sourced locally.

Once a permit holder has lived in Guernsey continuously for eight years they can obtain an Established Residents Permit. Once they have stayed in Guernsey continuously for 14 years they will be issued with a Permanent Residents Permit enabling them to stay in Guernsey permanently and, importantly, they will have an automatic right of return after any period of absence.

The new regime includes a new body designed to give guidance to the officials who will manage the permit system, with an eye to ensuring that the make-up of the Island's population matches the Island's needs.  The Population Advisory Panel will have a chairman and six non-States members to provide independent advice  to the Policy Council every six months and advise on any potential shortages in labour that the Island may face.

Advocate Gray said: “The current regime served its original purpose well, but was no longer meeting the needs of Guernsey and Guernsey's working population.  The new regime should help to attract talent to the Island by giving those people certainty about what rights they will accrue and when.  It will help the authorities manage and control the problem widely referred to as the ‘demographic time-bomb’ (of an aging population and a decreasing working age population). Employers had become increasingly frustrated at the difficulty in obtaining longer-term licences and the cost of challenging the refusal of a licence.  The old regime was also very susceptible to challenge on human rights grounds, given that it interfered with people's home life and domestic circumstances.

Senior Associate Rachel Richardson said: “The new regime is much more transparent, streamlined and focuses on what Guernsey really needs. The new permits should make the process more streamlined and assist employers with recruitment, as it brings Guernsey into line with similar work permit systems used in competitor jurisdictions.”

The changes will also impact the Open Market housing sector by allowing the States to monitor the size and make-up of the Open Market population.

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