Sponsor Licence Reporting and Recording Duties for UK Employers in 2022
Most of us hate being told what to do. UK employers are no exception to this. That’s why one of the most irksome things about sponsoring skilled worker visa and intra company transfer visa holders are the reporting and recording duties imposed on sponsor licence holders by the Home Office. Some employers can see sense in having consistent rules but most struggle with a hundred percent compliance with the detail or the reasons why the Home Office system has to be followed when their own HR practices have served their business well for years. Sponsorship Licence lawyers won't disagree with those sentiments but they’ll still give the robust immigration advice you need to make sure your business is complying with the sponsor licence reporting and recording duties for UK employers in 2022.
UK Online and London Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers
What are the sponsor licence reporting and recording duties?
Whether your business is sponsoring employees on skilled worker visas or intra company transfer visas, the reporting and recording responsibilities under your sponsor licence are the same. That’s sensible as some UK business owners sponsor both types of worker and two sets of immigration rules would make things very confusing for employers and those tasked with managing HR for the business.
If your company holds a sponsor licence your duties are also the same whether you are a multinational business sponsoring hundreds of overseas employees or a start-up company sponsoring just the one tech or digital expert employee to help you get your business off the ground.
Business immigration solicitors say the sponsor licence reporting and recording duties are:
- To comply with UK laws. For example, the illegal working legislation and the conduct of right to work checks on all employees in accordance with the law.
- To comply with immigration rules.
- To provide the Home Office with information as part of its reporting duties. The prescribed information about the business and sponsored employees must be provided to the Home Office using the computerised sponsor management system and must be carried out in accordance with the Home Office time limits.
- To keep records in relation to the sponsor licence and the sponsored employees. Those records need to be easily locatable in case your business receives an unexpected Home Office compliance audit.
The risks of not complying with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties
If your company doesn’t comply with your sponsorship licence reporting and recording duties you risk:
- Reputational damage and risking your brand image. For example, if you are a tech firm but you haven’t been able to operate the computerised sponsor management system. For example, if you are promoting ethical work practices as part of your brand but you have not carried out right to work checks properly.
- A Home Office inspection audit and increased monitoring.
- The downgrading of your sponsor licence from an A rating.
- The suspension of your sponsor licence.
- Having to follow a Home Office action plan to get your sponsor licence upgraded back to an A rating.
- The revocation of your sponsor licence.
- Being unable to apply for a new sponsor licence for at least twelve months after your sponsor licence has been revoked.
- Being unable to meet commercial contract deadlines if you don’t have the staff to meet orders because you can't recruit new skilled migrant workers whilst your sponsor licence is suspended and you aren’t able to continue to employ skilled worker visa and intra company transfer visa holders if your sponsor licence is revoked.
As an individual employee you may think that all those risks are the problem of the company and you would be right – sort of. That’s because an individual owner or senior employee may be at risk of:
- Disciplinary action by the employer if they have not fulfilled their contractual duties.
- Loss of employment if the company suffers a downturn or reduction in trading because of the loss or suspension of the sponsor licence.
- An inability to be part of the key personnel managing a sponsor licence if they change employment to a new employer. This could be a serious issue if their HR role is likely to result in them needing to be nominated as one of the key personnel to manage the new employer’s sponsor licence.
- If you are a business owner or have an employee share incentive scheme, a reduction in the value of shares in the company if the business experiences reputational or brand damage. For example, a luxury retailer or restaurant not paying sponsored staff the minimum salary threshold under the skilled worker visa immigration rules, despite their own high prices. Share prices could fall.
Tips on complying with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties
Our Sponsorship Licence lawyers have the following tips for business owners, large and small, on how best to comply with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties:
- Don’t rush your sponsor licence application – it pays to take time to make sure that your existing HR practices are compliant with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties or to change them so they are. You also need time to then train or employ staff to comply with the changes. You may need help from Sponsorship Licence lawyers to audit your current HR practices or to initially manage your sponsor licence for you whilst you train up staff.
- Know your limitations and when you are beat- many smaller companies don’t have a head of HR or a team who have the capacity to meet reporting and recording duties. That should not mean you can't apply for or keep your sponsor licence but using a professional sponsor licence management service may be your answer. It may even be a cheaper alternative to recruiting HR staff or extra resources.
- Recognise problems and sort them – most sponsor licence suspensions or revocations arise because what was a small error mushrooms out of control. It is therefore best to have a culture that encourages staff to say if they have made a mistake or missed a deadline or forgotten to implement the new right to work procedures when inducting a new employee. If problems are acknowledged or regular internal or external auditing spots the issues then your risk of losing your sponsor licence is lowered. Sponsorship Licence lawyers can help support this process by carrying out an annual audit so issues are spotted before they become a problem.
- Attention to detail – with sponsor licence reporting and recording it is attention to detail that’s important. For example, do your HR staff understand the importance of the sponsored employee’s job description matching the SOC for the job role or the need to diary up if a worker has time limited entry clearance and a second or third right to work check will need to be completed and a copy kept on the employee’s HR file? How are staff absences recorded? Is there a system to recognise if the staff member is a sponsored employee and that their absence over ten days needs to be reported to the Home Office using the sponsor management system? It is little points like these that can accumulate unless attention is paid to what seem like routine or mundane matters.
- Know the rules – ideally the sponsor licence reporting and recording duties should become second nature to your key personnel and your level one and level two SMS users or you need to invest in either a professional sponsor licence management service or software to make the job easier for you. As part of knowing the rules you need to be aware that you are under a duty to report using the sponsor management system within ten working days of:
- A sponsored worker failing to report for work or being absent without leave for more than ten consecutive days.
- A sponsored worker leaving your employment or changing their job role if the new job is no longer consistent with their certificate of sponsorship. This new role may be because of the worker’s promotion or an illness that has affected their ability to carry out their original work or because your company has carried out a business reorganisation.
- If the sponsored worker is working for a new employer, for example, if the employee is working for a subsidiary company because you have reorganised how your company operates or if your business has changed its name or been taken over.
Sponsorship Licence lawyers know it isn’t easy for sponsoring employers to ‘know the rules’ when it comes to sponsor licence reporting and recording duties as there are lots of them. It can seem as if the rules are there to catch out the busy HR professional but with the right support and help sponsor licence reporting and recording should become second nature so audits and sponsor licence renewal applications aren’t anything to stress about.
UK Online and London Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers