According to no.10, the Prime Minister will ditch the minimum salary requirement which is currently in place for non-EEA migrant workers who take on employment in the UK.
This requirement, which sits at £30,000 (unless the role is classed as ‘in-shortage’), means that a person subject to immigration rules is unable to apply for a UK Work Visa without a job offer for a role that has a salary that meets this threshold.
The Work Visa minimum salary requirement was imposed by then-Home Secretary, Theresa May.
At the end of last year, the Government requested that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) review the threshold, considering if it puts off workers from different sectors in the UK.
Notably, in 2018 when the Brexit immigration White Paper was being produced, the MAC conducted a similar investigation and suggested it should remain intact after the UK leaves the EU, despite warnings from the Confederation of British Industry, who said it would be detrimental to at least 18 of the UK’s major industries.
With Brexit day edging closer, and Johnson’s plans to end free movement reportedly being pushed forward, this news has come as a positive for many economists and employers who argue that the loss of EU talent in ‘low-skilled’ roles is going to hurt many businesses and industries in the UK. Health, retail, and hospitality, in particular, are heavily reliant on EU workers, who fill vital roles that earn far less than £30,000 per year. As a result, when free movement abruptly ends, employers will no longer have access to this labour pool – and many are deeply concerned about this.
However, some Conservative MPs, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, have suggested that dropping the threshold would not be beneficial to the UK.
“We should be cautious about ditching the £30,000 threshold,” Smith warned ministers. “They will need to have very strong checks in place to ensure that they deliver on their pledge to control immigration”.
The MAC is due to report on their investigation next week and a revised immigration White Paper is expected to be published in March.
Header Image: Irish Examiner Design Team