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Care Homes and Sponsor Licence Compliance

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Our Immigration Solicitors understand the difficulties of sponsor licence compliance if your business is in the healthcare sector because our Sponsorship Licence Lawyers have substantial expertise in helping care homes and nursing homes apply for sponsor licences and in helping with troubleshooting if there are difficulties with sponsor licence compliance.

At OTS Solicitors we offer a full sponsor licence management service for peace of mind or ad hoc bespoke training for key personnel, pre-compliance mock audits or annual audits. We always welcome a discussion about what level of sponsor licence support your business needs.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence and business immigration advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

A focus on care homes

There has been increased disquiet about the potential exploitation of overseas care workers employed in care homes and nursing homes across the UK. The focus of these concerns is on carers and senior carers sponsored to work in the adult healthcare sector.

Undoubtedly exploitation of sponsored workers doesn’t just happen in the adult healthcare sector but Sponsorship Licence lawyers are warning healthcare businesses that the Home Office is focussing its attention on sponsor licence compliance in their sector. That approach may be misguided by the Home Office but it is best to be aware that your sector is under the Home Office spotlight so you can prepare accordingly.

Your sponsor duties

Our Sponsorship Licence Lawyers emphasise sponsor licence duties when care home and nursing home owners instruct us to apply for their first sponsor licence but it can be hard to take all these responsibilities on board or procedures can lapse if there is a change in HR or key personnel or absences. That’s why some sponsor licence holders elect to use our sponsor licence management service. Other companies choose to manage their own sponsor licence but have our Immigration Solicitors carry out an annual mini audit to check that their business is working to the latest immigration rules and guidance.

The general sponsor licence duties do not appear too onerous at first glance but care home owners say that appearances can be deceptive. The broad sponsor licence duties are:

  • Record keeping
  • Reporting
  • UK law compliance including compliance with the immigration rules and guidance
  • Not behaving or acting in a way that is not conducive to the public good

The above duties are broad in nature but the guidance for sponsoring employers drills down to the detail on what needs to be recorded and reported.

Your record keeping duties

Record keeping is not limited to your sponsored employees as you are also under a duty to record some organisational matters.

Sponsorship Licence Lawyers are always keen to point out that you can keep your information digitally or in paper form – whatever format best suits your business and the one that you are most likely to be able to adhere to and keep up to date. However, any record-keeping system also needs to be accessible to others. For example, if the Level one user is off on maternity leave or the authorising officer is on holiday when a Home Office official decides to carry out an unannounced visit.

Appendix D sets out what record keeping is necessary for each sponsored employee but Immigration Solicitors caution total reliance on Appendix D as you may need to keep some documents for longer to be compliant with other legislation. For example, right-to-work checks.

Your reporting duties

Reporting to the Home Office may make you feel like you are policing your employees but it is an essential part of your role as a sponsor licence holder. You are under an obligation to report on organisation changes as well as employee changes.

Where nursing homes and care homes employ many carers and senior carers it can be hard to keep on top of changes such as a worker moving to a new address, moving work location to a different care home, leaving your sponsored employment or if the employee is absent, without authorisation, for more than 10 days. That is why it is essential that you have a foolproof system in place or you use sponsor licence management services to make the job easier for you.

If you decide that you want to manage your sponsor licence and carry out the reporting then your key personnel should receive ongoing training so they know what they need to do to comply with the latest guidance and the Home Office time limits for reporting the various changes. You also need sufficient key personnel and Level two users in place to enable them to comply with the strict Home Office timelines.

Complying with UK law

A duty to comply with UK law is very wide-ranging but normally the particular focus is on compliance with employment law and payment of minimum wages, adhering to working time legislation, the conduct of right-to-work checks and illegal working legislation, immigration laws, and rules and guidance for sponsoring employers. There is also the catch-all that sponsoring employers must not behave in a manner that is detrimental to the public good.

Your sponsor licence responsibilities include:

  • Checking overseas job applicants have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do the jobs they are applying for and to keep records of the documents proving their suitability
  • Only assigning a certificate of sponsorship to a Health and Care Worker Visa applicant if the job meets the sponsorship criteria and there is a genuine vacancy
  • Reporting to the Home Office if sponsored workers on Health and Care Worker Visas are not complying with the conditions of their visas
  • Ensure that you are complying with the minimum salary threshold for the Health and Care Worker Visa and all UK employment laws relevant to your sector
  • Having HR systems in place to monitor the immigration status of employees with evidence that right-to-work checks have been carried out as well as to track the new addresses of employees on Health and Care Worker Visas, the  attendance of sponsored employees so you can report to the Home Office if a Health and Care Worker Visa holder has an unauthorised absence of more than 10 days
  • Having systems to report to the Home Office on any relevant changes to your care home business such as opening a new home, merging with another care home company or changing your head office or key personnel

Sponsor licence compliance penalties

To understand why sponsor licence compliance deserves your investment it is important to understand the penalties of getting sponsor licence compliance wrong.

They are:

  1. The suspension of your sponsor licence and having to work with the Home Office to get your sponsor licence back up to an A rating. During the suspension, you cannot sponsor any new workers
  2. The revocation of your sponsor licence and the imposition of a cooling off period during which time you cannot sponsor your existing sponsored employees meaning they will either have to find a new sponsoring employer or leave the UK
  3. The financial damage of not being able to provide contracted care if you are unable to recruit non-sponsored carers   whilst your sponsor licence is revoked
  4. The brand damage of the Home Office suspending or revoking your sponsor licence

Sponsor licence compliance solicitors

Our Sponsorship Licence Lawyers have substantial experience in advising on the healthcare sector and sponsor licence management and can help your business with all its sponsor licence, business immigration and employment law needs.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence and business immigration advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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