20-hour cap on supplementary
work resumes for Health
and Care Workers
8 September 2023
In February this year, the Home Office announced a change to the rules on supplementary employment for sponsored workers in the UK on a Health and Care Worker visa.
The change temporarily lifted the 20-hour cap on supplementary employment, meaning Health and Care Worker visa holders were permitted to work in a second job for as many hours as they liked without updating their visa, as long as the extra job was also eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa.
The move was intended to help alleviate staffing pressures in the sector by allowing qualified healthcare workers to take on unlimited hours of extra work with an additional employer. However, this exemption has now been removed and the 20-hour cap on supplementary employment has resumed.
Health and Care Workers and their employers should be aware of the current rules surrounding supplementary employment under this route. If you are already working in a second job or considering doing so, you may need to update your visa.
Taking on additional work on a Health and Care Worker visa
On a Health and Care Worker visa, you can do additional paid work as long as you are still doing the job you are being sponsored for. You can also do unpaid voluntary work.
Whether you will need to apply to update your visa or not depends on the type of work you are doing and the number of hours you are going to work.
You can work up to 20 hours a week in another job without updating your visa, if it’s either:
- In the same occupation code and at the same level as your first job.
- In a shortage occupation.
You will need to update your visa if:
- Your additional job is more than 20 hours a week.
- Your additional job is not in a shortage occupation and is either:
- In a different occupation code to your first job
- In the same occupation code to your first job, but at a different level.
You can find out if your job is in a shortage occupation by checking both:
- The Skilled Worker visa: shortage occupations for health and education.
- The Skilled Worker visa shortage occupation list.
If you do need to update your visa, you will need to get a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your second employer and include a letter with your application explaining that you want to change your current permission to stay.
Impact on employers and healthcare workers
The temporary lifting of the 20-hour cap gave healthcare workers the flexibility to work unlimited extra hours, gain wider experience and earn extra income without worrying about breaching their visa conditions. Now that the restrictions are back in place, some workers may see a reduction in their weekly working hours and income if their second job does not meet the criteria listed above. As the UK’s cost of living crisis continues, this may be unwelcome news for some healthcare workers.
Employers will also lose some flexibility when offering supplementary employment to Health and Care Workers and you may need to apply to sponsor the worker if they need to update their visa to work for you.
As employers in the adult social care sector continue to grapple with staff shortages and become increasingly reliant on international recruitment, it is possible that the Home Office may decide to introduce further provisions to aid businesses in accessing the skills they need from overseas.
However, in the meantime employers should take heed of the current rules and ensure every employee has the necessary permission to work in the UK. With civil penalties set to rise significantly for businesses employing illegal workers, it is now more important than ever to ensure the necessary right to work checks are undertaken on every worker you employ.
Sponsoring Health and Care Workers?
If your organisation is looking to recruit healthcare professionals from overseas, Smith Stone Walters can help.
Our team of immigration experts can assist your business with all aspects of sponsorship and compliance. To find out more about our services, please contact us today.