‌The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has completed its report on the U.K.’s Shortage Occupation List, the first since 2020. While the last two reviews, in 2020 and 2019, called for expansions of the SOL, the MAC this time recommends that the SOL be abolished.

The SOL is the list of skilled jobs for which local workers are deemed to be in shortage. The employers for occupations on the SOL may bypass the U.K.’s minimum general salary threshold of £26,200 for skilled workers and hire non-European Economic Area workers at lower salaries: 80% of the “going rate” in those occupations, £20,960 or £10.75 per hour, whichever is higher.

Key Points:

  • Short of abolition, the MAC recommends elimination of the discounted (80%) salary threshold for employers seeking to hire foreign workers for SOL occupations.
  • If the government seeks to continue the SOL, the MAC recommended a pared-back list of just eight occupations, including laboratory and pharmaceutical technicians, construction and building-trades workers, bricklayers and masons, roofers and tilers, animal-care service occupations, home carers and senior carers.
  • The MAC suggested that if the government does decide to abolish the SOL, the MAC could be commissioned to examine individual occupations or sectors where labor market issues are particularly acute, possibly in collaboration with other bodies.

Background: The last MAC review was in September 2020, meaning the new review is the first since the COVID-19 pandemic and the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The MAC noted that, despite those two factors, the current number of foreign workers in the United Kingdom is the highest in history.‌

The SOL system is one of the primary ways employers are filling jobs in sectors facing labor shortages. The MAC, however, said that employers should not be allowed to pay below the going rate, which protected resident workers from undercutting wages and reduced exploitation of migrants.

The MAC is an independent group of economists that conducts analysis and makes recommendations to the U.K. government on immigration policy. Its policy recommendations are not binding on the government but are highly influential and often adopted.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group.

Copyright ©2023 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries, please contact