Earlier this year the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was commissioned by the Government to review the list of occupations skilled at NQF level 6 and the Tier 2 codes of practice, which set out the conditions employers must follow when recruiting workers from outside the European Economic Area.
This consultation was of particular relevance for many of our clients, who employ large numbers of non-EEA workers in roles where there is a shortage of UK staff available. HR personnel will be relieved to know that the majority of the changes proposed by MAC in the report published on the 17th October were relatively minor in scope and should not cause extensive complications.
Of particular significance is the MAC”s finding that the skill level for Tier 2 should remain at NQF level 6+ (degree level) and should not be increased. On the 14th June this year the skill level was increased from NQF level 4 to 6 and 27 occupations became ineligible under Tier 2, causing considerable issues for employers of migrants in certain roles. We were glad to read that the skill level will not change for the time being, as this would seem unduly restrictive.
We have summarised the key recommendations made by the MAC as follows:
- The skill level for Tier 2 remains at NQF6+ (degree level).
- Pay thresholds for experienced staff recruited via Tier 2 should be set at the 25th percentile of full-time wages for that occupation. Pay thresholds for new entrants to NQF6+ occupations should be set at the 10th percentile. For example, a Tier 2 migrant employed as an experienced mechanical engineer should be paid a minimum of £29,100. A migrant employed as a graduate-level entry mechanical engineer should be paid a minimum of £24,100.
- A simplified set of criteria setting out where vacancies should be advertised to meet the resident labour market test requirement.
- The MAC also suggests the Government may wish to review the requirement to advertise most vacancies in Jobcentre Plus as this may not be the best forum for recruiting skilled workers.
- The presentation of the codes of practice should be simplified in the form of a list of occupations and job titles rather than separate codes organised by industrial sector.
The full report can be viewed here.