There are numerous requirements that employers sponsoring individuals under the Skilled Worker route must meet. One of the more complex ones relates to the minimum salary criteria. We take a look at this complex area of law.
The minimum salary for skilled workers depends on a number of different factors. These include whether the individual is a ‘new entrant’, the occupation code, any relevant qualification held by the applicant, the number of hours to be worked and, not forgetting, minimum rates for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications. It is not surprising that many sponsors find this a particularly complex requirement to navigate.
As a general rule, a sponsored worker must be paid at, or above, either the minimum salary (known as the ‘going rate’) for the occupation code relevant to their role, or the overall minimum salary for their circumstances, whichever is the highest.
The specific occupation codes for jobs that can be sponsored are set out in the Immigration Rules. These contain the minimum salary levels for both new entrants and other workers.
When sponsoring a worker, the sponsor licence holder should carefully review the occupation codes to ensure that the salary to be paid is at least at the appropriate going rate for the role. If a salary does not meet the required level, then the worker’s application for a visa will be refused.
You can find information on how to choose an occupation codes here.
Absolute Minimum rates
Regardless of the rate set out in the occupation codes, the absolute minimum salary rate under the Skilled Worker route is currently £20,480. Generally workers must be paid a salary of at least £25,600 unless they can benefit from the tradeable points.
If the relevant occupation code sets out a higher salary, this is the salary that must be paid.
The exact salary that must be paid is determined by a set of tradeable points.
Applicants can be paid between 70% and 90% of the usual going rate for the job if their salary is at least £20,480 per year and they meet one of the following criteria:
- the job is in a shortage occupation; or
- they are under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training; or
- they have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that is relevant to the job (if they have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject the salary must be at least £23,040); or
- they have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education.
When considering the minimum salary according to the occupation code, sponsors should also take into account the number of hours work the minimum is based upon. The majority of salaries are based on a 39-hour working week. However, there are some variations as set out in the occupation codes.
This calculation can become very important where the worker will be paid the exact minimum salary for their role. A worker who will be paid the exact minimum permitted salary under the code, but who will work more hours than stated (typically 39 hours per week), will be deemed to be paid less than is allowed.
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
Individuals who have held permission under the Skilled Worker/Tier 2 (General) category for five years can apply to for ILR (also known as settlement). In order to do so, they would need to meet a number of requirements, not least a minimum salary requirement. This is now at least £25,600 or the going rate for the job, if higher.
Skilled Worker minimum salary requirement: How our immigration solicitors can help
We are experienced in advising both employers and individuals in relation to the minimum salary requirement and should you require any further information about this or any other aspect of sponsorship, please contact us or complete our enquiry form below.
This article was originally published in December 2020 and has been lightly updated; it is accurate as of the new date of publication shown.