Companies’ Foreign-Worker Lists Won’t Be Made Public, U.K. Says

  • Home Office says plans not about ‘naming and shaming’ firms
  • Controversial proposals aimed at helping to curb immigration

The U.K. government said a controversial proposal aimed at helping to curb immigration by forcing companies to reveal how many foreign workers they employ will not include making the data public after critics claimed it could lead to firms being “named and shamed.”

“The proportion of international workers in a company is one of the pieces of information that companies may be asked to provide to the government,” a spokesman for the Home Office said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. “This information will not be published.”

The plan, put forward by Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Tuesday, has led to a split in Prime Minister Theresa May’s administration after a government minister speaking on condition of anonymity condemned it as illegal and discriminatory. While the strategy spurred claims it would lead to firms being accused of employing too few U.K. workers if the data was publicly disclosed, the Home Office said the information was needed to help the government identify areas where there were a lack of Britons with the necessary skills.

“This is not about listing foreign workers or so-called ‘naming and shaming’ of companies,” said the Home Office spokesman who asked not to be named in line with government policy. “This already happens in the U.S. and is one of several proposals we will be consulting on as part of our work to ensure that companies take reasonable steps to recruit at home before looking to bring in workers from abroad.”

The plans added to evidence that lower immigration would be May’s priority, putting the U.K. on course for a so-called hard Brexit from the European Union, or leaving without a trade deal in place. That suggestion that Britain will sacrifice special access to the world’s largest trading bloc sent shock waves through financial markets and the pound to a 31-year low.

Under the proposal from Rudd and her team, companies would have to list the non-U.K. nationals who work for them. Other suggested measures included banks and landlords facing sanctions if they fail to make checks on foreigners doing business with them.

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