What is the ‘going rate’ salary UK employers have to offer a skilled worker to qualify for the skilled worker visa?
Immigration solicitors are some of the first to say that the eligibility criteria for the skilled worker visa are confusing for employers, particularly the minimum salary threshold. That’s because the minimum salary threshold to qualify for the skilled worker visa is based on a published minimum annual income or a percentage figure for the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher. In this blog we look at the concept of the ‘going rate’ for the job.
If you have questions about your business sponsoring employees under a Home Office issued sponsor licence or queries about the new skilled worker visa the friendly specialist immigration team at London based OTS Solicitors can help your company. Call OTS Solicitors on [telephone telephone] or contact us online. Appointments can be arranged via video call, Skype or telephone.
What is the 'going rate' for the job?
You would think that either an employer or a recognised industry body would set the going rate for a job. However, when it comes to the going rate for the job and the new skilled worker visa the going rate isn’t set by the employer. Instead, the government sets the going rate for particular jobs and publishes the rates on a government website.
The going rate is expressed as an annual gross salary as well an hourly rate of pay for a trade or profession. For example, production managers and directors in the construction industry (also referred to as building services managers, construction managers and directors of building construction) have a ‘going rate’ of £34,900 per year under classification code 1122. That equates to an hourly salary of £17.21 per hour.
Is there a London going rate for the job?
Often when it comes to salaries there is a London weighting for earnings because of the increased cost of living in London and surrounding area. However, when it comes to the government published going rates for job occupations there is no London weighting or regional variations. Some employers think that unfairly penalises them when employing overseas workers on skilled worker visas because in order for the job applicant to qualify for the visa the employer has to pay the government set minimum salary threshold or the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher figure.
What is the minimum salary threshold?
The minimum salary threshold isn’t a set figure, or rather confusingly for UK employers, the government sets the minimum salary threshold depending on the circumstances of the employee. That means employers can't assume that the general minimum salary threshold will be applicable to their job candidate. Employers also need to be aware that for the successful job candidate to meet the eligibility criteria for the skilled worker visa the migrant needs to be offered the minimum salary threshold relevant to their circumstances or the relevant percentage of the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher.
Immigration solicitors say that for the majority of skilled worker visa applicants the government set minimum salary threshold is £25,600 gross per year. However, under the UK points-based Immigration system, a skilled worker visa applicant needs to secure seventy points to qualify for a visa and some of those points are tradeable. Under the Immigration rules that means that for some skilled worker visa applicants the minimum salary threshold is reduced to £20,480 gross per year or between seventy to ninety percent of the going rate for the job, but you have to use the highest salary figure, namely £20,480 or the relevant percentage of the going rate.
A skilled worker visa applicant will meet the eligibility criteria for the minimum salary threshold of £20,480 if they meet one of the following conditions:
- The job is on the shortage occupation list produced by the government
- The job applicant is under the age of twenty-six, studying, in professional training or a recent graduate
- The job applicant has a science or technology or engineering or maths PhD level qualification that is relevant to the job they have applied for (if the job applicant has a PhD level qualification in another subject then the minimum salary threshold increases to £23,040)
- The job applicant has a postdoctoral position in science or higher education.
To add to the minimum salary threshold complexities, if you are a UK employer recruiting to fill a healthcare or education job with a worker on a skilled worker visa then different minimum salary threshold Immigration rules apply. The government publishes pay scales for jobs that fall within the healthcare or education classification. In addition, a reduced visa application fee is payable.
What is an occupation code?
The occupation code for a job is important as each code provides a job description and then sets the going rate for the job. The going rate for the job has to be considered together with the relevant percentage of the going rate that is applicable to your job candidate or the minimum salary threshold.
The government publishes a lengthy list of occupation codes and it is important that employers check what occupation code their job vacancy falls into.
What about part time jobs and the going rate?
The going rate for a job is always based on a standard week of work, namely a 39-hour working week. If the job applicant won't be working full time then the rate may need to be pro-rata applied.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
Navigating the minimum salary threshold and going rate for the skilled worker visa can seem complicated but if you are unsure about work visa options for skilled migrant workers the expert team of business immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors can answer your questions, making the complex intelligible for your business and HR staff.
UK Immigration solicitors
OTS Solicitors are experts in immigration law and can help your business with its sponsor licence application and sponsor licence compliance through offering a full Sponsor Licence management service. Our friendly specialist immigration solicitors can also answer your skilled worker visa questions. For the best advice on your Sponsor Licence, work visa options and the skilled worker visa call OTS Solicitors on [telephone telephone] or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conference, Skype or by telephone appointment.