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Revised Immigration Rules: Impact on the Health and Social Care Sector

A shake up to the immigration rules which will have a fundamental impact on the way in which UK employers use the Skilled Worker visa to recruit non-UK nationals into skilled roles is coming.

This update provides a summary of the changes to the UK immigration rules which come into force on 4 April, specifically focusing on their impact on the health and social care sector.

Key Changes

  • Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to be abolished: This will be replaced by the Immigration Salary List (ISL).
  • The ISL reduced to 21 occupations: The SOL currently includes 51 occupations, the ISL has been reduced to 21, representing 8% of the roles eligible for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker Visa. The roles of Care Worker and Senior Care Worker have been included on the ISL.
  • Dependant Restrictions: Unfortunately, a new policy prevents care workers and senior care workers from sponsoring dependants under the new rules.

A further key change that was announced, was an increase in the minimum salary to £38,700pa. For many businesses, the key concern was that this change would prevent the using this route without significantly increasing the salaries on offer to their UK and international colleagues. This has been a real concern for in care homes and nursing homes in the UK who rely on the  Skilled Worker visa to bolster the number of Care Workers and Senior Care Workers that they can employ.

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New Minimum Salaries

From 4 April 2024, the minimum salary requirement for Skilled Worker visas will increase for both new recruits and existing sponsored workers. While the initial fears of a significant rise to £38,700 haven’t materialised, salary increases haven’t been avoided entirely, for example from 4 April a Care Worker will need to be paid at least £23,200pa or £11.90ph, whichever is higher..

The Current Position:

  • The General salary threshold of £26,200pa or for roles on the SOL, £20,960pa
  • The applicable hourly rate of £10.75
  • The ‘going rate’ for the role, which is currently set at the 25th percentile of the nominal wage data associated with the role according to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data.

The New Position:

  • For all health and care roles on the ISL and those roles classed as the newly introduced ‘Health and Care ASHE salary jobs’, the minimum salary is increasing to the higher of £23,200pa, £11.90ph and the going rate (which remain at the 25th percentile).

Impact on the Sector

  • Continued Sponsorship: Importantly, care workers remain eligible for sponsorship by UK employers. This is positive news for the sector, which heavily relies on skilled workers from abroad.
  • Increased Costs: The minimum salary hike might necessitate adjustments to planned international recruitment and a review of existing sponsored workers and their pay.
  • Workforce Challenges: The inability for care workers to bring dependants presents a new hurdle. This could potentially impact recruitment efforts in the sector.

While the revised rules aim to streamline the immigration process, they introduce complexities for health and social care sector overseas recruitment.  We recommend employers stay updated on further developments, including a potential full review of the Immigration Salary List later this year, which may offer opportunities for employees to feed into the consultation.

Look out for further updates from us later in the year as we collate responses on behalf of our clients and contacts in this sector.

To discuss how we can help your business navigate these changes, please contact Employment Partner & Head of Immigration, Flora Mewies or another member of our Immigration Team.

Do you have a Immigration matter that you'd like expert support on? Fill in your details and submit your enquiry below.

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    Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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