Filipino Care Workers ‘Forced To Leave UK’
Many Filipino care workers across Wales may be forced to leave the UK because of a change in immigration rules.
The Home Office says employers must pay staff an hourly wage of at least £7.02 to gain work permits.
But care homes say they cannot afford to pay that much – so families could have to leave Wales and return to the Philippines.
However, the Home Office said work permit extensions would be granted if workers met skills criteria.
Many Filipinos have moved to Wales to work as senior care workers in homes looking after elderly and vulnerable people.
Lorina Mison, a worker in a care home in Rhyl, Denbighshire, is due to fly back to the Philippines on Sunday.
A single mother who supports her two children in the Philippines, she told BBC Wales’s Dragon’s Eye programme she felt hopeless.
“I feel homeless – I have nothing,” she said.
“I didn’t save anything because I support my kids back home to give them all the best and to send them to a good school.”
Father Charles Ramsey, a Catholic priest in Rhyl, said three Filipino families in his congregation would have to leave before Christmas, with 11 others due to go before Easter.
It is believed that the Home Office ruling over work permits is designed to protect employment opportunities for UK resident workers and it is estimated that more than 20,000 senior care workers in the UK are affected.
Gemma Domingo, a nurse with over 20 years’ experience has to leave in January, feared her job prospects in the Philippines are bleak.
“I’m going to be 50 soon,” she said. “In the Philippines they like new graduates and younger generation to take jobs… going back, to me, is frustrating, disgusting and we don’t know what to do to get income.”
Paul Bates of the European Care Group, which runs a dozen care and nursing homes in the Rhyl area, said higher wages were unaffordable because in many cases services were commissioned by local authorities, which had tight budgets.
“It’s a question of commercial viability,” he said. “We simply couldn’t do it.
“There was no direct consultation with us – the new rules came as something of a shock.”
The Home Office said: “We have put in place transitional measures to ensure care services are not disrupted and vulnerable people in life-threatening situations are not put at risk.
“Senior care workers who have previously been issued work permits will be able to apply for an extension which will be granted if they meet the skills criteria.
“The work permit arrangements are designed to strike a balance between allowing employers to recruit people with the skills they need, while protecting employment opportunities for resident workers.”