General Salary Threshold Requirements for Skilled Workers in the UK on Skilled Worker Visas banner


General Salary Threshold Requirements for Skilled Workers in the UK on Skilled Worker Visas

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Working out the minimum salary requirement for a skilled worker hoping to come to the UK on a skilled worker visa isn’t always straightforward, especially if you are a sponsoring employer in a sector where work hours are uncertain or affected by the seasons. For example, the healthcare sector or jobs in hospitality or construction.

In this article, our immigration solicitors look at the complex immigration rules surrounding the general salary threshold and salary calculations for the skilled worker visa.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence and business immigration advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

The immigration rules on the minimum salary threshold

The immigration rules on the minimum salary threshold are a bit of a minefield but if you are a sponsoring employer who wants to study them you can find them in Appendix Skilled Worker. The going rates for a particular skilled job are contained in Appendix Skilled Occupations.

The rules and rates are reviewed so it’s important to keep up to date. If you don’t then you risk:

  • A recruit’s skilled worker visa application being refused because the salary you are offering them on their certificate of sponsorship is less than the minimum salary threshold for the particular job or applicant
  • A Home Office compliance visit
  • Worst case scenario, the suspension or revocation of your sponsor licence

If you don’t have the staff to keep up with all the sponsor licence rules or you risk getting minimum salary threshold calculations wrong then the OTS Solicitors sponsor licence management service may be one option for you. For a fixed monthly retainer your sponsor licence is managed for you.

If your key personnel are on top of the management side of your sponsor licence but you are worried that they may not be up to date with the latest immigration rules, and you are concerned about them inadvertently being caught out, then bespoke training by our Sponsorship Licence lawyers may be the answer. This can be a one-off session or be part of a regular or annual training programme.

The salary rules apply throughout the sponsored employee’s employment

As Sponsorship Licence lawyers we find that some sponsoring employers are good at calculating the general salary threshold but things go awry during the worker’s employment. For example, if the employee is on reduced hours or working different shift patterns. The rules on the minimum salary threshold apply throughout the worker’s employment – they don’t stop when the recruit is allocated a certificate of sponsorship to apply for their skilled worker visa.

Some employers think that if a sponsored worker’s salary is changed it won't come to light or they don’t realise the impact of this on the continuation of the firm’s sponsor licence. A salary reduction will be flagged up if the Home Office check with HMRC. That flag then has the potential for Home Office audits and the hassle and expense of the company trying to explain any salary difference between that stated on the worker’s certificate of sponsorship and the HMRC records.

The general salary threshold

The minimum salary threshold is a moving target as it depends on the job and, to a certain extent, on the worker. For example, if the recruit qualifies as a new entrant, they can be paid less than a sponsored employee who isn’t a new entrant.

The general rules say that unless there is an applicable exception, the salary you pay to the worker must meet or exceed all of the following:

  1. The general salary threshold (this is usually £26,200 gross per year but it can be reduced to £20,960 in some cases where tradeable points are relevant. Tradeable points are a whole different topic) and
  2. The applicable going rate for the occupation (in some scenarios a sponsoring employer can pay between 70 to 90% of the going rate. The rate is calculated and pro-rated based on the number of hours the employee works) and
  3. Where applicable, the minimum hourly rate (currently at least £10.75 per hour). The hourly rate doesn’t apply if the employee is working in an eligible health or education occupation code in Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations and in some other situations

One question that Sponsorship Licence lawyers are frequently asked is what happens if you employ an overseas worker on the minimum salary threshold and the threshold goes up after you have employed them? The immigration rules say that provided you are paying the employee the amount stated on their certificate of sponsorship then that is acceptable. If the employee applies to extend their visa, the rules say that they will need to be paid the revised minimum salary threshold as they will then need a new certificate of sponsorship.

Calculating the general salary threshold

The general salary threshold is calculated based on actual gross earnings, up to a maximum of 48 hours per week.

The Home Office only takes into account guaranteed basic gross pay. They don’t take into account guaranteed other allowances, pay or benefits, such as:

  • Non-guaranteed pay because of fluctuating hours
  • Overtime
  • Shift allowances
  • Bonuses
  • Employer pension contributions
  • Employer NI contributions
  • Employee accommodation
  • Company car
  • Health insurance
  • Payment of visa application fees or the immigration health surcharge
  • Payment of travel costs to the UK
  • Golden hello payment at the start of the employment contract

It is worth noting that different rules apply to guaranteed allowances and the calculation of pay if an existing sponsored employee was previously on a Tier 2 (General) visa and applies for indefinite leave to remain. The ILR application has to be made before 1 December 2026 for this concession to apply.

Part-time workers and the general salary threshold

If a sponsored employee is going to work part-time, the Home Office considers their actual gross earnings to check to see if they meet the general salary threshold. In other words, the worker’s salary won't be increased to the equivalent full-time earnings.

Irregular work patterns

Many sponsored employees, especially in the healthcare and hospitality sectors, work irregular hours so don’t get a set monthly pay packet.

The Home Office variable pay rules say that:

  • Work over 48 hours in some weeks can be considered towards the general salary threshold calculation provided the average over a regular cycle (which can be no more than 17 weeks) is not more than 48 hours a week
  • Unpaid rest days and weeks count towards the average pay calculation and unpaid rest weeks don’t count as absences from employment

How can OTS Solicitors help?

Don’t be surprised if your key personnel diligently read the immigration rules and review the latest Home Office guidance but are still confused by the salary requirements to sponsor a skilled worker visa applicant. It isn’t easy, even if they carefully go through the Home Office worked examples.

OTS Solicitors can help with all your sponsor licence needs from your first application to the management of your licence and its renewal. If you hit a problem with your sponsor licence because you have not complied with the salary rules or if you have not kept up to date with reporting and recording duties then we can step in to help.

As specialist Sponsorship Licence lawyers, we come across all types of problems with sponsor licence applications and management. We provide unflappable clear business immigration advice that will help your key personnel navigate the Home Office rules and guidance.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence and business immigration advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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