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UNITED KINGDOM – Updates to the Sponsor Guidance
April 13, 2023
On 31 March 2023, the Home Office updated Part 3 of the Home Office’s Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors, which deals with Sponsor duties and compliance. This is effective immediately.
The guidance has been updated to:
- clarify reporting duties for sponsors
- introduce a new reporting duty for sponsors of offshore workers
- clarify that UK Expansion Worker sponsors cannot be downgraded to a B-rating
- introduce new revocation powers for the Government Authorised Exchange and UK Expansion Worker routes
- make some other minor clarifications and amendments
Hybrid and remote working and reporting
The requirement for sponsors to report a change of work location was already in place for when a sponsored worker’s work location changed, but the change in the guidance expands this to hybrid working patterns. The new guidance requires the sponsors to report if a worker is moving to one of these:
- working remotely from home on a permanent or full-time basis (with little or no requirement to physically attend a workplace), and
- a hybrid working pattern, which is defined in the guidance as ‘where the worker will work remotely on a regular and planned basis from their home or another address, such as a work hub space, that is not a client site or an address listed on your licence’
- It also confirms that sponsors do not need to report day-to-day changes in work location (e.g., if a worker occasionally works at a different branch or site, or from home). Only changes to a worker’s regular working patterns in this context need to be reported.
New reporting duty for sponsors of offshore workers
From 12 April 2023, a sponsor of an offshore worker will need to notify the Home Office of the following when the worker arrives and depart at the offshore work location no earlier than the date the worker arrives in or leaves and no later than 10 working days after the date the worker arrives in or leaves UK waters
There is no need to report where the worker temporarily leaves UK waters, e.g. for a holiday or rest, but where new entry clearance is obtained for a new job a separate notification will be required.
There is currently no provision to make this notification on the Sponsor Management System (SMS), this notification must be made by email to [email protected]. The notification email must contain the following details:
- sponsor licence reference number
- the CoS reference number of the offshore worker
- the name, date of birth and nationality of the offshore worker
- the name of the ship or vessel on which the offshore worker will be based
- the date they arrived in, or left, UK waters (as appropriate)
For what you can do as a sponsor, please also check our previous article on End of Offshore Wind Workers Concession
Other reporting duties changes
Reporting duties changes include:
- confirmation that a report must be made where a sponsored worker does not start the sponsored role within 28 days of a specified event (rather than within 10 working days)
- the report that must be made where a sponsored worker is absent without pay for more than four weeks in total in any calendar year (or during the period they are being sponsored, for Scale-up) also applies for absence on reduced pay
- when reporting an absence without permission for more than 10 consecutive days, a sponsor will now need to include certain information in that report:
- the date the unauthorised absence started
- if the worker has since returned to work, the date they returned
- if the worker has not returned to work, details of any attempts the sponsor has made to contact the worker
- whether the sponsor has made, or will be making, any salary deductions for the period of unauthorised absence, and what those deductions are
- whether the sponsor intends to continue sponsoring the worker
Reporting organisation changes
Requests to replace the authorising officer (AO) or key contact (KC), and add new Level 1 Users will be fulfilled immediately, subject to certain criteria being met. These criteria are:
- the postcode of the address stated for the new AO, KC or Level 1 User must match either the postcode of the sponsor’s main organisation address or that of its head office address or, for KCs and Level 1 Users, the postcode of a legal representative organisation that it has told the Home Office is acting on its behalf
- the licence must be fully active, and
- the sponsor must be an A rated sponsor
UK Expansion Worker and Scale-up licences
Although sponsor licenses are normally valid for four years and can be renewed, the new guidance clarifies the below:
- licences cannot be held for more than four years in either UK Expansion Worker and Scale-up routes.
- a sponsor cannot be downgraded to a B-rating if they are a provisional sponsor on the UK Expansion route; the only relevant sanction is revocation
Suspending your licence
The new guidance provides clarification that suspension of a licence will not immediately affect workers who already have valid permission. Workers you are sponsoring at the time of the suspension, and who have valid permission to enter or stay, will not be affected, unless or until the Home Office decide to revoke your licence.
Compliance with UK law
In the complying with wider UK law section, the following additional examples have been added of non-compliance:
- enrolling employees on a pension scheme (where this is required)
- not being subject to UK or UN imposed sanctions
- paying VAT or other duty penalties
Separately, the Compliance checks section has been amended to confirm that checks may be taken ‘based on a poor previous record of compliance with us or other government departments’.
If you have any compliance queries on the above or which are more nuanced please contact us directly on [email protected]. For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.