With more businesses obtaining sponsor licences than ever before, it is imperative that employers who sponsor foreign workers are fulfilling their sponsorship duties and obligations.
From today (3 April 2023), employers need to be aware of updates to the sponsor guidance on various matters, to clarify the reporting position for hybrid working patterns and new reporting obligations for offshore workers.
What do employers need to know?
Remote and hybrid working
Certificates of sponsorship assigned from 3 April 2023 refer to ‘normal work location’ rather than ‘work location, and the updated guidance requires sponsors to report if a worker is moving to:
- working remotely from home on a permanent or full time basis; and
- hybrid working patterns defined as “where the worker will work remotely on a regular and planned basis from their home or another address (work hub space) that is not a client site or listed address on their licence.
Employers are not required to report any day-to-day changes in work location if occasionally working at a difference branch or working from home. It is only regular working patterns that need to be observed and reported.
From 12 April 2023, if a sponsored employee is working offshore, employers have a duty to notify the Home Office with specific information, including when they first arrive at the beginning of the job for which they are sponsored for, and when they leave the UK at the end of that job. They must do this by email to a designated Home Office inbox, and not via the Sponsor Management System.
Such reporting must be made no earlier than the date they arrive in or leave the UK and no later than ten working days after the date the worker arrives in or leaves the UK. Reporting is not necessary for workers temporarily leaving the UK for holiday.
Other reporting duties
In addition, there has been changes to the guidance on general reporting duties outlined in the sponsor guidance where a sponsored worker:
- does not start work within 28 days,;
- is absent without pay for more than four weeks (or absence on reduced pay) and any unauthorised absences of more than ten consecutive days that requires specific information to be reported.
The sponsor guidance refers to general compliance with UK law and has added more examples of non-compliance which includes, ensuring, where required, employees are enrolled on a pension scheme, not being subject to UK or UN imposed sanctions and paying VAT or other duties penalties.
General compliance duties also now explicitly confirms that checks may be taken on employers based on a “poor previous record of compliance” with the Home Office or other government departments.
If the Home office believes employers have breached their sponsor duties, whether unintentionally or otherwise, that poses a threat to immigration control, they may decide to revoke a licence and remove employers from the register that can have tremendously damaging consequences for employees and the business.
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