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New requirement to report hybrid or remote working patterns for sponsored employees

17 April 2023

In new guidance, the Home Office has confirmed that hybrid and remote working locations must be reported for sponsored workers. Sponsors should review the work location information recorded for all sponsored workers and consider making updates on the Sponsor Management System as appropriate.

This change is important because during the pandemic, the Home Office published guidance for sponsors confirming that they were not required to notify the Home Office about sponsored workers working from home due to coronavirus.

Many businesses switched to remote working during the COVID-19 lockdown periods, and then made temporary or permanent changes to their working arrangements afterwards. These changes may have been to the business’s office locations (including giving up permanent office premises) or to the location(s) and pattern of attendance for workers.

The updated guidance signals that permanent post-pandemic remote or hybrid working arrangements must be reported.

What has changed in the sponsor guidance?

Part 3 of the sponsor guidance for workers and temporary workers was updated on 31 March 2023 to include additional text on sponsors’ duty to notify the Home Office of a sponsored worker’s normal work location. Temporary changes in work location that are not part of a regular working pattern do not need to be reported.

The guidance confirms that where a worker’s normal work location (as noted on their Certificate of Sponsorship) changes, the sponsor must report this, including where:

  • The worker is/will be working at a different site, branch or office of the sponsor, or at a different client site, and this has not previously been notified to the Home Office.
  • The worker is/will be working remotely from home on a permanent or full-time basis (with little or no requirement to attend a workplace).
  • The worker has moved/will move to a hybrid working pattern, i.e. they will work remotely on a regular and planned basis from their home or another address (e.g. a work hub space) other than a declared client site or address listed on the sponsor’s licence, as well as working regularly at a declared client site or an address listed on the licence.

Reports of changes to a sponsored worker’s circumstances must be made using the Sponsor Management System (SMS) within 10 working days of the change occurring. Due to the nature of this change in guidance, it is likely however that if sponsors now take action as soon as practicable to comply with it, the Home Office will take a pragmatic approach regarding late notifications. 

What actions should sponsors take?

Sponsors should review the work location details currently recorded on the SMS for their sponsored workers and make notifications as appropriate to ensure that all locations that are part of their regular working pattern are accurately reflected.

The guidance is silent on what consequences may flow from reporting that a worker is working from home on a permanent or full-time basis. Sponsors should be aware that the Home Office may query whether there is a need for the worker to be based in the UK where there is no requirement for them to physically attend a workplace, and should be ready to justify this on a case-by-case basis.

We will be covering the Spring updates to the Immigration Rules and sponsor guidance in our upcoming webinar, What’s happening in immigration law, on 3 May 2023. For further information and to sign up, click here. If you require advice on sponsor compliance in the context of hybrid or remote working, please get in touch with a member of our Immigration Team.

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