Immigration has been a hot topic in the news recently.
The health and care sector in particular has been reliant on migrant workers to supplement their workforce amidst an ongoing staff shortage crisis.
What is the Health and Care Worker Visa
The Health and Care Worker Visa, which falls under the skilled worker visa category, was introduced, in part, to aid this crisis and something which Ridouts has seen become a more popular option for many providers who are struggling to find domestic labour.
In effect it is no different to any other skilled worker apart from the fact only persons of certain professions and who meet certain criteria may apply for it. Those criteria are:
- Be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional;
- work in an eligible health or social care job;
- work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office;
- have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK; and
- be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do.
Assuming a provider is approved by the Home Office and the employee meets the above criteria, obtaining this visa should be a straight forward process.
How can the Health and Care Worker Visa Help Providers?
The benefits of being able to draw from a wider labour market are deemed highly beneficial, which is a large part of why this visa was introduced.
Further, the roles of care workers, home carers and senior care workers are currently on the shortage occupation list, which is a list of occupations deemed to in short supply of suitable labour within the UK and so it is sensible to fill those gaps with migrant workers. This means they can be offered a salary which is less than the minimum required salary provided they are still making £10.75 per hour.
The reduced fees associated with hiring employees into these roles compared to hiring others on the skilled worker route should help providers reduce costs for employing overseas workers.
Recent Proposed Changes to Immigration Policy
However, with the announcement of raising the legal minimum salary from £26,200 a year to £38,700 a year for skilled worker visas many employers and employees alike are shaken and concerned about the future of the workforce in the UK.
This will have a particularly harsh effect on sectors where the average salaries are much lower than that threshold but who also rely on migrant workers to supplement the workforce, such as the care sector.
The average salary for a care worker in the UK is £23,510 per year or £12.06 per hour. Entry level positions start at £21,190 per year, while most experienced workers make up to £37,425 per year.
This would in effect mean a 50% pay rise for any worker who is on a skilled worker visa currently. This isn’t good news for a sector that is already strapped for cash and struggling to keep up with costs of living.
Fortunately for health and social care providers, the Health and Care Worker Visa is currently exempt from this minimum salary threshold increase. Whilst there are plans to scrap the shortage occupation list and replace it with a slimmed down ‘immigration salary list’ which would in effect maintain the threshold discounts, it would be hoped that these much-needed roles would not be excluded from the new list.
We have recently had an influx of requests from providers on whether or not we can assist them with sponsorship applications. In my series of articles to follow I will take readers through the sponsorship process, both from the employer’s (i.e. providers) and employee’s (i.e. health and care workers) perspectives with the aim of providing a framework for them to work from and aid their journey to becoming a sponsor.
If you would more detailed and specific advise for your personal circumstances, please contact us at email@example.com or call us on 020 7317 0340.