UK Employers Seek to Lower Salary Threshold for Foreign Workers

Despite continuing uncertainty over Brexit, UK employers are seeking a lower salary threshold for foreign workers. Currently, all non-European Union (EU) citizens who work in the UK must earn a minimum salary of £30,000. Proposals under consideration will extend this requirement to EU citizens following Brexit.

Former UK Secretary of State for the Home Department Sajid Javid unveiled these proposals in December 2018 in a white paper on immigration, “The UK’s future skills-based immigration system.” This white paper describes proposals on new laws that may become the foundation for a government bill. Specific points in the white paper cover topics on immigrant employment such as:

  1. Skilled foreign workers seeking visas that cover a five-year period must earn a minimum salary of £30,000.
  2. Eliminating all caps on highly-skilled workers from both the EU and non-EU countries

Coalition Notes Need for Lower Salary Threshold

A coalition consisting of employers and educational institutions notes that over 60% of all jobs in the UK are currently below the £30,000 threshold. This coalition includes, among others:

The coalition supports measures that create a lower salary threshold for foreign workers. As a result, the group proposes a lower salary threshold of £20,000. Other measures the coalition supports include increases in the amount and length for temporary visas and post-education work visas.

What Does This Mean?

Impending implementation of some sort of Brexit plan has already led job seekers from the EU to reduce their search for positions in the UK. As a result, a great number of positions are being filled by British workers. However, this is a temporary solution, at best. The UK is experiencing several trends that combine to leave employers without workers:

  1. Declining UK labor force participation by EU nationals.
  2. Self-employment continues to increase to record high levels.
  3. Unemployment rate in the UK continues to decline.
  4. Job openings in the UK are rising to levels that continue to set records.

What Should Employers Seeking a Lower Salary Threshold do?

Employers and coalition members should continue their efforts to promote a lower salary threshold for foreign workers. Many of the coalition members represent industries that employ large numbers of workers in lower wage occupations. Competition for workers across all industries and skill levels continues to increase, so the coalition will continue its efforts.

Employers in the UK should examine their employment needs. They should review their relocation program to determine if it benefits their talent acquisition goals during times of extremely tight labor markets and continued economic growth.

Employers should work with a Relocation Management Company (RMC) that has the knowledge and expertise to help them design a relocation program that promotes global talent acquisition. RMCs with knowledge and experience will provide expert guidance on designing a relocation program to attract qualified new hires and relocating employees.


GMS’ team of global relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients develop hiring and recruiting programs to attract highly skilled job seekers in the UK. Our team can help your company determine how to attract job seekers looking for employment opportunities. We can help your company attract workers whether or not the coalition succeeds with the lower salary threshold for foreign workers.

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Contact our experts online to discuss your company’s recruiting, hiring, and relocation program needs as the UK continues to examine the possibility of a lower salary threshold for foreign workers, or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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