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Health and Care

Forward thinking for the Health and Care Sector

The last few weeks and the weeks to come will have an unprecedented impact on the health and care systems in the UK. The NHS is readying itself to manage one of the most significant viral outbreaks the UK has ever seen. The care sector is adapting to a country in lock down and doing all it can to protect the elderly, disabled and severely ill; those most at risk from the coronavirus. Multiple sectors face the loss of key workers as employees are required to isolate as the virus spreads.

It is difficult to look at anything other than managing the immediate crisis but this is a time for forward thinking. The country will recover and sectors will take stock of the impact of the coronavirus and will start to take steps to rebuild the UK economy. Immigration will play a key part in getting the right people, with the right skills into roles quickly.

If you need to fill vital roles in the future, then you will need to know more about the introduction of the 2021 immigration system and how it will impact your current workforce and your strategy for future recruitment.

The health and care sector have historically relied on workers from the EU and on Tier 2 of the Immigration system to meet their workforce requirements. 2020 will see dramatic changes to our immigration system.

Sponsored skilled workers

For the first time Europeans will be included with all other overseas nationals in the mainstream immigration system. The current system is known as Tier 2 and provides access to visas for non-European overseas nationals, provided that they satisfy a skills and salary threshold.

Under the new system, the skills threshold is likely to be reduced from graduate to A’ level. This is good news for the care sector as it will bring Senior Care Workers into the scheme enabling recruitment from overseas. Many NHS jobs are defined as being shortage roles making recruitment more straight forward.

It has been confirmed that the salary threshold will be reduced from a baseline of £30,000 to £25,600 with a further reduction to £20,480 for shortage occupations and certain PhD level roles. As now, there will be lower salary thresholds for new entrants to the labour market. The suggestion of a lower salary threshold has been welcomed by cross sector business groups although concern remains about the viability of meeting these thresholds in the care sector.

The Government have also proposed an NHS fast track visa which will make it easier and cheaper to recruit into NHS roles.

The 2021 immigration system will be more attractive for the health and care sector It will not however solve the problem of how to recruit the required workforce in what the Government considers to be lower skilled roles such as care assistants. Interestingly many of the roles which are now defined as being undertaken by key workers and are vital in the fight against the coronavirus, are defined as lower skilled and not available for sponsorship. We hope that the Government will rethink the importance it places on these roles as it takes stock of the response to the coronavirus.

For more detailed information on plans for 2021 click here.

We will be briefing our clients on the development of the 2021 immigration system as announcements are made during 2020. You do not have to be a client to receive these briefings. You can submit a request to emma.brooksbank@freeths.co.uk.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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