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Global HR Lawyers

Gimme 5

22 September 2017

A series of five hints, tips and thoughts to help keep your sponsor licence healthy.

Over the last few years, the Home Office has become stricter about employers meeting their sponsor obligations. With a resolution to audit every one of the almost 30,000 sponsors once every four years, the focus is increasingly on compliance.

These hints and tips are designed to get you thinking about the health of your sponsor licence, and how to avoid problems when the Home Office knocks on your door…

1. Reporting duties

As a sponsor, you must report to the Home Office when certain circumstances change. Some circumstances include when the migrant worker’s job title changes, a promotion, and some salary increases. You also need to report business changes, including change of Key Personnel (like an Authorising Officer) and any corporate transactions the business has been involved in. There might also be additional steps to take depending on specific circumstances.

One issue that affects both sponsor and migrant is a change of office location. You must report this for the business, and also for each individual migrant worker you sponsor.

2. Record keeping

Many sponsors comply with the guidance on advertising a role, but later face issues as they are not able to provide appropriate evidence. As well as undertaking a compliant round of advertising, it is essential to keep the correct records.

Areas easily overlooked are screenshots of advertising that contain all of the required details, lists of candidates who applied for the job and the reasons they weren’t successful, and up to date contact details for the migrants you sponsor. In most circumstances, screenshots should be taken on the first day of the ad going live.

3. Right to work checks

Obtain, check and copy – as easy as 1, 2, 3. Make sure all right to work checks are conducted before any employee actually starts work. This could be a week before they are due to start, or any time before they are due to start.

You will need to keep certified copies on file for all employees, not just sponsored migrants.

4. Genuineness

Genuineness’ is a broad-brush objective term and allows the Home Office to look beyond the above-mentioned, more tangible duties. Often, genuineness will relate to the advertising you conducted, or the job role that the migrant worker performs, or will perform.

So, if your Resident Labour Market Test wasn’t conducted to the letter of the guidance, or if the job description seems to be inflated compared to what the migrant worker says during an interview, the genuineness of the employment (or specifically, the need to hire a migrant worker) might come into question.

5. The impact of failing to comply with the above

The Home Office can suspend, downgrade or revoke your sponsor licence. The action taken depends on the seriousness of your breaches. For minor breaches, it is unlikely that your licence would be revoked. However, if you have ‘systemic’ problems and numerous breaches, suspension is likely. If you cannot respond to each and every alleged breach, it is likely that your licence will be revoked. Systemic breaches would include not keeping records of advertising for job roles, not conducting correct right to work checks on employees, and artificially inflating a job role so that it becomes eligible for sponsorship under Tier 2.

Follow the above tips and your sponsor licence will be healthier and far less likely to be revoked.

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