The Home Secretary has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) to consider further the question of salary thresholds for the future immigration system to take effect from 2021.
Last year the MAC published its report on the impact on the UK labour market of the UK’s exit from the European Union. The MAC had been asked by the Government to assess the impact of EEA migration on the UK’s economy and society as well as to consider recommendations for the UK’s future immigration system.
The MAC previously recommended that sponsors should be able to sponsor employees in lower skilled roles than is currently the case. However, they also recommended that the Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold for experienced workers should remain at £30,000 per year. The MAC’s September 2018 report also specifically rejected any regional variation of the salary threshold across the UK.
The government published its White Paper on the UK’s future skills-based immigration system in December 2018. This accepted most of the MAC’s proposals. However, in relation to the Tier 2 salary threshold it stated that the government would “engage businesses and employers as to what salary threshold should be set”.
The Home Secretary has now asked the MAC to:
- Reconsider how future salary thresholds should be calculated;
- Review where the levels of minimum salary thresholds should be set in the future system;
- Reconsider whether there is a need for regional salary thresholds for different parts of the UK; and
- Advise on whether there should be exceptions to salary thresholds, for example, for roles on the shortage occupation list and new entrants to an occupation.
Businesses fear a shortage in skills post-Brexit and this will be even worse if lower salary thresholds are not included in the future skills-based immigration system. If the MAC’s current recommendations are adopted employers would be able to sponsor people in lower-skilled roles under Tier 2 but this may be of little help if they can only sponsor someone whose annual salary is at least £30,000. Particular concern has been raised in sectors where valued and in demand skills are not necessarily reflected by higher salaries, such as the care and catering and hospitality sector.
The MAC is due to report back to the government in January 2020 and it will be interesting to see how they respond in that report.