Tips on how to avoid the revocation of your sponsor licence
If your business has its sponsor licence revoked then it is far more than just one of those irritating business issues that you and your HR staff have to face and deal with every working day. If you employ a number of overseas workers on Tier 2 (General) visas or skilled worker visas it could have a devastating impact on them as well as your business as if you can't continue to act as a sponsoring employer then your sponsored employees will have to find a new job with an employer who holds a Sponsor Licence and can issue them with a certificate of sponsorship. If they can't do that or secure an alternative visa, they will have to leave the UK. In this blog our specialist sponsor licence and immigration solicitors look at tips on how to avoid problems with your Sponsor Licence.
If your business is facing a sponsor licence revocation or you are worried about your compliance with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties the friendly specialist immigration team at London based OTS Solicitors can help you. Call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments can be arranged via video call, Skype or telephone.
Can you afford to have your Sponsor Licence revoked?
Immigration solicitors say that whether you are a start-up with no HR staff or support, a SME, or a multi-national company, most businesses can't afford to have their Sponsor Licence revoked. Some key personnel assume that if you don’t employ loads of skilled migrant workers it doesn’t really matter if your Sponsor Licence is revoked. However, specialist immigration solicitors say that even if a significant proportion of your workforce isn’t sponsored from overseas on Tier 2 (General) visas or skilled worker visas the revocation of your sponsor licence can have a really big effect on your business.
Revocation of a Sponsor Licence could result in your business:
- Losing a key member of staff who is a sponsored employee
- Finding it harder to recruit a UK or settled worker who has the experience or skill set to replace your sponsored worker (or workers) who can no longer continue to be employed by your business as you can't sponsor an overseas worker without a Sponsor Licence
- Risking a key member of staff or workers being recruited by a competitor business who can offer them sponsored Employment and a certificate of sponsorship
- Having to take legal advice on your sponsor licence revocation and how to get your Sponsor Licence reinstated
- Suffering reputational damage because of the circumstances of the revocation of your Sponsor Licence.
The risks of your Sponsor Licence being revoked and the impact on your business can't be overstated. That’s why it is important and best that all your Sponsor Licence key personnel not only understand their sponsor licence reporting and recording duties but the significance of their not following procedures on:
- Their sponsored work colleagues and
- The profitability of the business.
Some UK employers find it helpful to ensure that all their key personnel and HR staff have training on this topic as understanding the ramifications of not complying with Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties can help ensure compliance.
Put bluntly, if your Sponsor Licence is revoked it could mean:
- Your business folds – that means that not only will your sponsored employees lose their sponsored Employment but your key personnel and other staff will also lose their jobs or
- Disciplinary action against key personnel - if the sponsor licence revocation is down to their failure to carry out their job functions and agreed sponsor licence reporting and recording duties on the Home Office sponsor management system or
- Reduced business profitability – that could be down to reduced output because of the loss of sponsored employees and inability to replace them or increased overheads because of the cost of getting your Sponsor Licence reinstated and the additional recruitment costs. The reduced business profitability could mean, in real terms, that your key personnel and other staff don’t get the bonus or pay rise they were hoping for or their promotion
- Business reorganisation – this could include the redundancy or redeployment of key personnel or other HR staff because of the need to restructure your business. For example, you may not need to employ staff who carry out the key personnel role if the Sponsor Licence is revoked or if your Sponsor Licence is reinstated you may choose to outsource the reporting and recording duties to a professional sponsor management service.
Tips to avoid your Sponsor Licence being revoked
Explaining the importance of sponsor licence compliance and adherence to reporting and recording procedures isn’t or should not be about scare mongering but simply explaining cause and effect so that key personnel and other relevant staff understand just how important their job role is in the success of the business and how their work colleagues rely on them, whether it is carrying out the correct right to work check on a new worker who is a British citizen or person with settled status or reporting a change of address for a sponsored employee on the Home Office sponsor management system. In essence, just as with health and safety training, it is important to understand cause and effect of what may seem like a very routine task not being carried out.
It is all very well to blame key personnel for issues with the Home Office and your Sponsor Licence but when it comes to revocation of sponsor licences there are normally serious compliance issues rather than kit being the case of one level one or level two user forgetting to report one or two matters on the Home Office sponsor management system. That often points to systematic management issues rather than all the risks of sponsor licence revocation being avoided by the training of level one key personnel on the importance of properly completing their Sponsor Licence management tasks. What then are the tips on how to ensure management do all they can to avoid the Sponsor Licence being revoked? Immigration solicitors recommend:
- Business owners and managers attend or complete the same sort of training on Sponsor Licence compliance and the consequences to the business of the Sponsor Licence being revoked by the Home Office. That means they not only understand the consequences but their presence or completion of online training emphasises the importance of the Sponsor Licence to the business
- There are regular reviews of procedures as although no one likes to think that their procedures aren’t up to scratch there are often simple improvements that can be made to make reporting and recording water tight
- HR files for both settled workers and sponsored employees are audited to check that right to work checks have been carried out and sponsor licence reporting and recording duties complied with
- External audits are carried out by your sponsor licence immigration solicitors or other professionals. External audits can not only highlight procedural policy or file issues but also make your business aware of key points that the Home Office are focussing on in their Sponsor Licence audits or tell you about best practice or policies and procedures that may be a more efficient option for your business
- Getting quick and early Immigration law advice as soon as you spot a problem with Sponsor Licence compliance as immigration solicitors may recommend making an approach to the Home Office to explain the non-compliance and the remedial action taken by your business rather than waiting for a Home Office audit to discover the problem and potentially suspend or revoke your Sponsor Licence
- Creating a culture within your business that key personnel feel comfortable reporting if a mistake or error has been made so managers can address the mistake or put new systems in place to make sure that the same sort of mistake doesn’t occur again.
The main point is that no one is perfect, whether you are a level one or two user or authorised officer, so working in a business that recognises that and is honest with the Home Office if errors occur and shows a commitment to improve goes a long way to ensuring that your business’s Sponsor Licence isn’t revoked and that you are able to successfully recruit and retain skilled migrant sponsored workers on skilled worker visas.