What records does an employer with a sponsor licence have to keep?
What records does an employer with a Sponsor Licence have to keep? As sponsor licence solicitors we are inundated with questions about sponsor licence applications from first time business applicants as well as with queries about sponsor licence management and record keeping duties. In this article we look at what records an employer with a Sponsor Licence has to keep.
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.
Storing Home Office Sponsor Licence records
Many UK businesses feel as if they are drowning in red tape and paperwork. Sponsor licence solicitors are so used to managing paperwork that it doesn’t get us down but we do appreciate that when it comes to Home Office Sponsor Licence record duties many employers can feel a bit overwhelmed with where to start and what to record and store.
To start with a positive, the good news is that the rules don’t say that you have to store the paperwork and records in a prescribed manner, such as a hardcopy paper version in a centralised sponsored worker record. That means if you are committed to a paperless office the records can be stored electronically, if you prefer to do so.
Sponsor licence solicitors say that whatever your storage preferences or procedures it is essential that:
- Record keeping is kept up to date - if it isn’t then your business will have a problem if the Home Office decides to conduct an unannounced sponsor licence audit or compliance visit or your business is only given very short notification of a planned visit
- The records are locatable - your level one user may have a brilliant record keeping system but if it is only known to them then your business will have a problem if a Home Office official wants access to the records whilst the employee is on holiday or away on sick leave. Whatever your preferred storage method, the records need to be locatable
- The records are accessible - some businesses choose to store records off site to reduce business overheads. That is fine but with Sponsor Licence records they need to be accessible so either a version of the record needs to be stored electronically as well as off site or your business needs to choose a storage facility with access requirements in mind because Sponsor Licence records need to be easily accessible and available to the Home Office on request.
What are the rules on Sponsor Licence record keeping?
Appendix D to the Immigration Rules sets out what records need to be kept by businesses who hold UK sponsor licences.
If your business doesn’t comply with your Sponsor Licence record keeping duties it could result in:
- A Sponsor Licence compliance visit by a Home Office official - these visits and audits can be announced or without notice
- The downgrading of your Sponsor Licence rating
- The suspension of your Sponsor Licence
- The revocation of your sponsor licence.
One of the most common areas Sponsor Licence holders fall foul of Home Office rules is on record keeping but that’s normally because:
- Pressures of time to follow different reporting and recording practices for sponsored workers or
- Lack of training on the Sponsor Licence management system and reporting duties or
- Not appreciating the consequences to the business of not following policies and complying with recording duties.
Whatever the reason why your business hasn’t kept up with record keeping it could have an impact on the continuation of your Sponsor Licence.
The Appendix D documents
Appendix D lists the documents your business must keep to comply with your Sponsor Licence obligations. It applies to employers sponsoring workers on Tier 2 (General) visas, skilled worker visas, Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer visas as well as other types of visa.
The documents that your business must keep for each sponsored worker includes:
- A copy of the sponsored worker’s current passport. The pages showing personal identity details as well as Immigration status, leave to remain and stamps must be photocopied
- The sponsored worker’s biometric residence permit
- The sponsored worker’s national insurance number, unless the sponsored worker is exempt from requiring a national insurance number
- The sponsored worker’s address and any previous addresses
- The sponsored worker’s phone contact details to include home number (if any) and mobile telephone number
- The sponsored worker’s contract of Employment and disclosure and barring service check (if a check was undertaken)
- A record of the sponsored worker’s absences from their Employment - any unauthorised absences of ten days or more must be notified to the Home Office
- Copies of the sponsored worker’s payslips with evidence of the sponsored worker’s name and national insurance number and the payments made and any deductions together with evidence of frequency of payment
- The job description for the job that the sponsored worker has been employed to carry out. The job description should detail the duties and responsibilities and skills, qualifications and experience needed by the job applicant and details and any evidence of the sponsored worker’s qualifications.
How long does a Sponsor Licence employer need to keep records and documents?
All the documents that a Sponsor Licence holder is required to keep under Appendix D have to be kept for the longer of:
- One year from the date the business ends its sponsorship of the sponsored worker or
- Provided that the sponsored worker is no longer in the Employment of the business once a Home Office official has looked at and approved the records.
In some cases your business may sponsor a sponsored worker for less than one year (for example, because they decide to return home, through redundancy or because the sponsored worker takes up Employment with another employer who holds a Sponsor Licence). If your business sponsors a sponsored worker for less than one year then the rules say your business must keep the relevant paperwork for the period of sponsorship or until a Home Office official has looked at and approved them, whichever is the longer period.
Remember some documents may need to be kept for longer than the time set out above because of other legislation and in addition your business needs to keep documents for non-sponsored as well as sponsored workers, such as copies of right to work documentation.
Does your business need help with Sponsor Licence recording duties?
Many businesses think that they can and should cope with meeting the Sponsor Licence appendix D recording requirements but it isn’t easy unless your business sets up the policies and procedures to ensure that record and reporting duties become second nature to your key personnel or alternatively your business uses the services of a Sponsor Licence management team.
The sponsor licence solicitors at London based OTS Solicitors can help with Sponsor Licence management services as well as providing bespoke training for your staff on their Sponsor Licence duties and conducting Sponsor Licence mock auditsto ensure that your systems are robust and your business is complying with its recording duties. That way your business can minimise the risk of Sponsor Licence problems from compliance visits and audits and the downgrading, suspension or revocation of your sponsor licence.
The experienced UK business immigration team at OTS Solicitors can help your business with all its Sponsor Licence legal needs as our specialist sponsor licence solicitors have the experience and expertise to help your business from first sponsor licence application to the efficient management of your sponsor licence.
OTS Solicitors 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 Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.