On Christmas eve, the Government announced a gift for the health and social care (HSC) sector. No, not an invitation to No. 10’s next house party, but a set of temporary changes to the Health and Care Worker visa.
Under these changes, employers will be able to recruit non-UK care workers using the Skilled Worker route. My initial thoughts on this announcement can be found here.
Yesterday, the Government confirmed when these changes would take effect. From 15 February 2022, care workers will be added to the Shortage Occupation List, allowing them to be sponsored through the Skilled Worker route as long as they are being paid at least £20,480.
This means that the following roles will be included within the Shortage Occupation List so non-UK workers who are employed in these roles can apply for a Health and Care Worker visa :
- Care assistants;
- Care workers;
- Home care assistants;
- Home carers; and
- Support workers in nursing homes.
It is important to note that these changes are only temporary; the policy is due to be reviewed by the Government on 14 February 2023.
With just three weeks to go, employers should start considering whether they will be able to take advantage of this change. My top tips for HSC sector employers from my last post remain the same. Employers in the HSC sector should:
- Assess whether there is a current shortage or likely shortage in the short-term future of care workers which could be filled with non-UK workers;
- Calculate whether the roles where there is a shortage carry an annual salary of £20,480 or above;
- If the answer to both the above questions is yes, obtain a sponsorship licence – this registration process can be started prior to the changes being implemented*;
- If successful in this application for a licence, assign a certificate of sponsorship to potential non-UK workers and that worker can then submit their application for a Health and Care Worker visa*.
*These processes are lengthy and complex and more detail is beyond the scope of this blog. It is key to note that prior to embarking down this sponsorship route, employers understand their duties and responsibility both in terms of the HR systems and necessary checks and the financial cost. A fee is payable as part of the sponsorship licence application and then a further fee for each application. An up-to-date list of the Home Office’s fees can be found here.
As I mentioned in my last post, we are looking to provide a product that will help employers with the sponsorship process. If you are interested, please contact email@example.com to note your interest and what stages of the process you would appreciate assistance with.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is undertaking a review into the impact of the ending of free movement on the social care sector. Whilst the MAC are not publishing their full report until the end of April 2022, they felt they had sufficient evidence with which to make a recommendation in their Annual Report to add care workers to the Health and Care visa and the Shortage Occupation List.