On 23 July 2019 the Government confirmed its intention to adopt the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (‘MAC’) to include a range of additional occupations on the Shortage Occupation List (‘SOL’). The recommendations add all medical practitioner, occupational therapist, psychologist, radiographer, speech and language therapist, and social worker roles to the list.

The decision may represent only one small step towards addressing national recruitment challenges in these sectors but it is likely to be a giant step for individual employers and indeed applicants. The decision represents a significant step towards making the recruitment of overseas skilled workers into difficult-to-fill roles easier and more efficient through the following changes:

  • With the exception of the recruitment of nurses where the recommendations suggest that the test should still be undertaken, an employer will not have to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test, resulting in a saving of vacancy advertising and recruitment time.
  • Visa fees are lower, by almost 24% at today’s date, making the recruitment process more economical.
  • Eligible jobs are given priority in the event that a cap on Tier 2 (General) visa applies - though this cap already has not applied to the recruitment to the recruitment of doctors and nurses since July 2018. In practice, this means that jobs on the SOL cannot be turned down when the cap binds.
  • There is no requirement for a person to meet the salary threshold of £35,800 in order to apply for settlement after 5 years. This requirement is waived if the job title has been on the SOL at any point in those 5 years.

The amendments to the SOL are expected to be made in the Autumn Immigration Rules changes. The announcement will be welcome news for all healthcare organisations particularly given the uncertainties surrounding the impact of Brexit and the future immigration system. However, the recruitment of overseas workers is still not a straightforward issue.

For further information on how this issue might affect your organisation, please contact Andrew Uttley, Lee Carroll or Sarah Parkinson.