Changes To Migrant Worker Salary Levels Explained

The UK Government Raises Migrant Worker Salary Thresholds To Control Immigration

Before 4 April 2024, the minimum salary for a Skilled Worker coming to work in the UK from overseas was £26,200 per year before tax or the ‘going rate’ for that job, whichever was higher.

From 4 April 2024 the minimum migrant worker salary requirement is £37,800 per year before tax or the ‘going rate’ for the job, whichever is higher. This is a big increase.

Every Skilled Worker must have a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ (COS) in order to work in the UK. If the worker has a COS which was issued before 4 April 2024, they can receive a minimum of £26,200 under the old rules. Some jobs can pay even less but this is a limited group of occupations.

New Rules After 4th April 2024

A Skilled Worker issued with a COS after 4 April arriving in the UK for the first time on this route will have to earn at least £38,700 per year. The same goes for someone who is ‘switching’ into the Skilled Worker route for the first time in the UK, for example a student switching to the Skilled Worker route.

Transitional Arrangements

If a worker is already in the UK as a Skilled Worker but now needs to extend their Skilled Worker visa or is moving to a different employer as a Skilled Worker, there are transitional arrangements. If the COS is issued after 4 April 2024, they will have to be paid a minimum of £29,000 per year or the going rate. 

Example 1 - Hugo applies to come to the UK as a Skilled Worker with a COS issued on 23 March 2024. He is a civil engineer. The minimum salary is £26,200 or the going rate for his job, whichever is higher – his application is subject to the old rules. The going rate for the job is specified by the government on its list of occupations which are eligible for the Skilled Worker route.

Example 2 - Miriam has been in the UK as a Skilled Worker for three years. She currently earns £25,000 gross per year. She is going to extend her permission in October. She comes under the Transitional Arrangements and must be paid a minimum of £29,000 gross per year or the going rate, whichever is higher. So she will need a pay rise of at least £4,000 perhaps more depending on the going rate.

Example 3 - Samuel is here as the husband of a British Citizen but his marriage has broken down. He cannot stay in the UK as a partner so he has found a Skilled Worker job. His COS was issued on 2 May 2024. He is a new Skilled Worker and must be paid a minimum of £38,700 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.

Migrant Worker Salary Changes | Immigration Legal Services

Calculating New Salaries

The salary rates are based on a 37.5 hour week. If a worker works more hours or fewer hours, their pay must be pro-rated and must still conform to the Skilled Worker salary scales. There are some ways of reducing the minimum Skilled Worker salaries, for example if a person has a PhD relevant to their job or is just starting their career.

These new salary rates will make it more expensive for employers in some sectors to employ workers from abroad and will cause problems when Skilled Workers are renewing their permission to be in the UK – because they may need a higher salary. There is no doubt that the new rules make the Skilled Worker scheme more complex for employers who have to work out who to pay, how much to pay, and from what date.

Immigration Salary List

One important point to note is that occupations on the new ‘Immigration Salary List’ are treated differently. This list replaces the Shortage Occupation list and includes Careworkers and Senior Careworkers. We will post about this at a later date.

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