top of page

UK migration advisor tells Sunak government to scrap special visa rules for shortage occupations

The United Kingdom’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent advisor on migration, has recommended the abolition of one of the primary routes for businesses to hire migrant workers in sectors facing severe staff shortages.

The MAC conducted a review of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and expressed concerns that making it easier to recruit low-wage workers could increase the risk of exploitation.

Click & check your eligibility for immigration Find out

Currently, employers can hire migrant workers at 80% of the standard “going rate” for specific occupations listed on the SOL. This includes roles like bricklayers and care workers. Being on the SOL allows employers to bypass the general minimum salary threshold for a skilled worker visa, which is £26,200. Consequently, sectors with wages below this threshold have particularly benefited from inclusion on the list.

The MAC’s recommendation stems from concerns that low-wage migrants may result in a net fiscal cost for the UK, and the administrative burden of the scheme can be uneconomical for many businesses. The committee believes that abolishing the SOL would be a preferable approach to addressing labor shortages in low-wage sectors.

The MAC suggested that no employer should be allowed to pay below the going rate, as this would help protect resident workers from wage undercutting and reduce the potential exploitation of migrant workers. The Home Office has not provided an immediate response to the report.

« Back to recommendation stories

Moving forward, the MAC proposed a different approach, where it could focus on individual occupations or sectors facing acute labor market challenges. This would involve examining various aspects, such as wages, training, and technology investments, to develop a more sustainable response to labor shortages.The future of the Shortage Occupation List remains uncertain, as the UK government considers the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee and assesses their potential impact on the country’s immigration policies.with reuters inputs