Sponsor Licences: Salary Evidence For Sponsored Employees
Most HR directors tell immigration solicitors that they find the minimum salary threshold rules for overseas workers on the skilled worker visa complex and confusing. Business immigration solicitors have a great deal of sympathy as the immigration rules certainly aren’t straight forward. It isn’t therefore surprising that UK employers struggle with the rules, especially when many UK businesses have applied for their first sponsor licence because of Brexit and the end of free movement and therefore aren’t used to having to deal with the red tape.
Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
The minimum salary threshold
For a skilled migrant worker to meet the eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa not only do they need a job offer from a UK employer who holds a Home Office issued sponsor licence but the job must:
- Be a job with a standard occupation code (SOC).
- Meet the skill level – the job must be to A level standard although the visa holder doesn’t need the qualification of an A level or equivalent.
- Be paid at the minimum salary threshold or the going rate for the job but the precise salary will depend on a range of factors including whether the job applicant qualifies as a new entrant.
Many HR directors see the role of their business immigration solicitor ending once they have secured their sponsor licence but immigration and employment law solicitors can help UK business owners with the immigration and employment law aspects of the recruitment of skilled migrant workers.
For example, business immigration solicitors can assist with:
- The recruitment process such as the SOC code or allocation of the certificate of sponsorship.
- The minimum salary threshold or going rate for the particular vacancy – this will depend on the characteristics of the overseas job applicant and the nature of the job. For example, if the job is on the shortage occupation list the salary can be lower and still meet the eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa.
- Advice and training on use of the sponsor management system (SMS) and reporting and recording duties.
- Ensuring right to work checks are completed in accordance with procedures compliant with the illegal working legislation and sponsor licence reporting and recording duties.
- Making sure your business is ready, through internal audits, in case of announced or unannounced Home Office audits and compliance visits.
Evidence of salary for sponsored employees
In addition to compliance visits the Home Office can contact your business to ask for evidence of the salary you are paying to a skilled migrant worker employed on a skilled worker visa. The Home Office will expect the uploading of payslips. Failure to comply or irregularities could result in a Home Office inspection.
Examples of irregularities could be:
- A different address for the skilled worker visa holder on the pay slip and on the SMS - the reporting and recording rules say that if an employee changes address this has to be recorded as part of sponsor licence reporting and recording duties.
- A reduction in the salary paid to the skilled worker visa holder to that stated in the certificate of sponsorship and contained on the SMS. If a salary is reduced (but still at a level above the minimum salary threshold) this still has to be reported on the SMS within ten days of the change.
- Payment of a gross salary that is the equivalent of the minimum salary threshold for the job the skilled worker visaholder is employed to undertake but the payslip shows the worker is working many hours per week and therefore their hourly rate is less than the minimum rate of £10.10 per hour.
- The job role on the worker’s pay slip is not consistent with the job description on the SMS. For example, the sponsored worker may have an SOC code and a certificate of sponsorship to work in a specific job but the reality is they are doing a different job as identified on the wage slip.
The wage slip is therefore an important document that needs to be accurate with the information held by the Home Office on the SMS. The provision of requested wage slips isn’t something to ignore as it is likely to result in an inspection. The outcome of an inspection could be the continuation of the sponsor licence or its suspension or revocation.
It is awful to think that something as simple as failure to keep the SMS up to date or errors on a wage slip could ultimately lead to the suspension or revocation of the sponsor licence. That is why it is so critical to get ongoing proactive immigration and employment law advice so a small issue doesn’t become a trigger to a major headache.
Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors