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Immigration Salary List – MAC Rapid Review

Mar 24, 2024

The Home Secretary revealed major changes to the immigration system for Skilled Workers (SW) on the 4th of December 2023. Following this, the government assigned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to promptly assess the updated Immigration Salary List (ISL).

After a thorough review, the MAC has made recommendations for the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to ensure that all employers pay their workers fair wages. As a result, many occupations previously eligible for an 80% discount will no longer qualify. This change is designed to safeguard workers from exploitation, particularly in industries with low wages.

The Skilled Worker route caters to high-paying, full-time, permanent positions, making it more suitable for medium- to large-sized employers due to the associated administrative burden and costs. It was not intended to meet the requirements of every employer in the UK, as some may find other routes more beneficial. For instance, the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) allows young individuals from eligible countries to work in the UK for up to 2 years without formal employer sponsorship or work restrictions. Expanding the YMS to additional countries, especially those geographically close to the UK, could benefit sectors like hospitality with more flexible labour markets. This approach also mitigates risks of exploitation often seen in low-wage jobs by decoupling visas from specific employers.

Given the evolving landscape, the SOL's impact on accessing overseas labour is narrowing, prompting consideration of expanding the SW route to accommodate low-wage RQF 3+ jobs. This shift raises critical questions for the Government to address regarding the SOL's function and effectiveness in addressing labour shortages through migration. If the Government opts against allowing low-wage employers to pay below the general threshold, reforming or abolishing the SOL may be necessary.

Alternatively, a cross-departmental assessment of shortages with a focus on skills and training could offer a more strategic approach to identifying occupations suitable for migration to meet sector-specific demands.
The MAC recommendations are extensive, and a more substantive review of the new Immigration Salary List is anticipated to start later in 2024.

We are here to help navigate the intricacies of meeting visa requirements and immigration regulations for you, your business, and your employees. Contact us today at [email protected] to see if we can enlighten you.

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