Seasonal Workers must now be paid at Skilled Worker rates

Holders of Seasonal Worker visas employed in the UK must currently be paid the minimum wage. That means an hourly rate of £9.50 for workers over 23 (the “National Living Wage”), somewhat lower for people aged 21-22, and £6.83 for 18- to 20-year-olds.

As of 6 April 2022, Seasonal worker compensation will be raised to Skilled Worker rates. The government’s official guidance stipulates:

“For any worker you sponsor on the Seasonal Worker route who will be making their application for entry clearance on or after 6 April 2022, you must confirm the applicant will be paid at least £10.10 for each hour they work.

This rate is in line with the Skilled Worker minimum hourly pay requirement.”

The Immigration Rules are being adapted in order to reflect this change. Paragraph SAW 4.1 will outline the following as of April 6:

“The applicant must have a Certificate of Sponsorship for the job they are planning to do, which must… (g) confirm the applicant will be paid at least £10.10 for each hour worked.”

This change in government policy in respect to Seasonal Worker compensation is quite surprising, given that the Seasonal Worker visa programme was originally designed to facilitate fixed period employment for lower-skilled agricultural workers. The lower salary scale was an attractive feature for employers in the agricultural sector. The new regulations will now blur the distinction between seasonal and skilled workers, especially since it was already possible to sponsor “managers and proprietors in agriculture and horticulture” (Code 1211) and those in “horticultural trades” (Code 5112) under the latter route.

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