What are an employer’s duties under a sponsor licence?
If only the granting of a Sponsor Licence was the end of the bureaucracy entailed in sponsoring overseas workers on UK work visas. Sponsor licence solicitors say that before a sponsor licence application is submitted to the Home Office it is vital that key personnel understand their Sponsor Licence duties and have systems in place, either internally or through use of solicitors providing a Sponsor Licence management package, to ensure compliance with both Sponsor Licence recording and reporting duties.
UK Sponsor Licence solicitors
London based OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration law. For expert advice from the specialist team of work visa and sponsor licence solicitors call 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.
Why does a business have to comply with Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties?
When talking of Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties sponsor licence solicitors find it best to start with the consequences of non-compliance so business owners understand why Sponsor Licence solicitors emphasise the importance of internal systems or use of professional Sponsor Licence management services.
The consequences of Sponsor Licence non-compliance with reporting and recording duties are:
- Your business could be subject to a Home Office compliance visit or audit - this may be announced (taking time and money to prepare for) or be an unannounced visit
- Your businesses Sponsor Licence rating could be downgraded from an A rating
- Your businesses sponsor licence renewal application may be refused because of reporting and recording issues during your first Sponsor Licence
- Your existing Sponsor Licence could be suspended meaning that your business won't be able to recruit any more overseas workers on skilled worker visas and your business will need to work with the Home Office to address the issues that lead to the suspension
- Your existing sponsor licence could be revoked meaning that your business can't continue to employ its overseas workers on Tier 2 (General) visas or skilled worker visas. That could mean your business will have an Employment shortage. Your overseas workers will only have a limited period of time to either secure another work visa with a sponsoring employer, apply for a non-work visa or leave the UK.
As it costs your business time and money and leaves your business with additional recruitment challenges (and could have devastating consequences for the sponsored workers employed by your business) sponsor licence solicitorsrecommend that it is best to accept the reporting and recording duties that come with a Sponsor Licence and find a way to manage them that works for your business.
The key personnel to manage the Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties
When you apply for and hold a Home Office issued Sponsor Licence you need to specify who will fill key personnel roles to fill duties including the management of the Sponsor Licence as well as reporting and recording duties.
The key personnel roles can be allocated to a single employee or business owner or to a number of different people but the key to the successful operation of your Sponsor Licence is identifying suitable key personnel who meet the eligibility criteria for the roles and ensuring that they have sufficient time or training to carry out their roles.
If your business doesn’t have the available resources or commitment to comply with the reporting and recording duties then use of a professional Sponsor Licence management service should be considered.
The key personnel are:
- Authorising officer - a business owner or senior employee with the authority to recruit staff including overseas workers. The authorising officer is responsible for the Sponsor Licence management
- Key contact- the key contact is the person responsible for liaising with the Home Office. This role can be allocated internally or a sponsor licence solicitor can fulfil this role for your business
- Level 1 and 2 users - employees or an external Sponsor Licence management service who conduct the recording and reporting activities through use of the Home Office Sponsor Licence management system.
When your business first applies for its Sponsor Licence you only need to allocate one Level 1 user. However, if you need to do so then your business can allocate additional level one and two users. Level two users have less authority and permissions than a person whose authorised access to your Sponsor Licence management system at level one.
Sponsor Licence management and record keeping
Some businesses aren’t brilliant at record keeping but a significant proportion of Sponsor Licence duties is record keeping. If you know your business isn’t great with records then it is best to take the time to get the right systems put in place with staff recruitment or training or accept that your business will need the help of an external Sponsor Licence management service.
A business with a Home Office issued Sponsor Licence needs to retain either a photocopy or an electronic copy of:
- The relevant pages of the sponsored worker’s passport - this should include the pages containing identity details, Immigration status, stamps and the period of leave to remain
- The sponsored worker’s national insurance number and biometric residence permit
- The sponsored worker’s current and previous contact details to include addresses
- The sponsored worker’s contract of Employment and, where relevant, any disclosure barring service check
- Any other document required for the type of visa that the sponsored worker is employed under (such as documentary evidence to establish that the job and sponsored worker are of the required skill level for a Tier 2 (General) visa or a skilled worker visa or evidence of pay to establish that the sponsored worker is paid at least the correct minimum salary threshold for their job)
- A record of the sponsored worker’s absences from their Employment.
Sponsor Licence management and reporting
In addition to record keeping a Sponsor Licence holder must also monitor and report on their sponsored workers to comply with their Home Office imposed duties.
A business has to report using the online Home Office Sponsor Licence management service within ten working days if any of these events occur:
- A sponsored worker doesn’t attend the first day of their Employment
- A sponsored worker is absent or away from their Employment without permission for ten or more days. That means your business needs to ensure that any absences (such as sick leave) are authorised
- Changes are made to a sponsored worker’s contract of Employment (as for example a change in job role may impact on their Tier 2 (General) visa or skilled worker visa) or if the contract of Employment is terminated by either the business as the employer or the sponsored worker as the employee.
In addition to the above reporting duties your business should also monitor the Immigration status of sponsored workers and report any evidence that a sponsored worker is in breach of their visa conditions.
Reporting duties don’t stop with your employees, as a business with a Sponsor Licence is also under a duty to report changes within the business. These changes should be reported within twenty days of the change occurring. Matters that your business should report include:
- Change of business address
- The opening of a new business address or the closure of a business address, such as a shop or office
- Setting up or closing an overseas branch, subsidiary company or linked business or company
- Change of key point of contact or authorising officer.
Does your business need help with your Sponsor Licence application or reporting and recording duties?
- First sponsor licence applications
- Work visa and skilled worker visa questions
- Sponsor Licence management services
- Sponsor Licence mock audits and staff training on Sponsor Licence reporting and recording duties
- Sponsor licence renewal applications
- Sponsor Licence problems from compliance visits and audits to the downgrading, suspension or revocation of your sponsor licence.
UK Sponsor Licence solicitors
OTS Solicitors are specialist sponsor licence solicitors with the experience and expertise to help your business at all stages of your Sponsor Licence journey from first sponsor licence application to the efficient management of your sponsor licence.
OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration and employment law and are recommended in the two leading law directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession. For UK Sponsor Licence advice call OTS Solicitorson 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.