More than 54,600 organisations hold a worker / temporary worker sponsor licence, enabling them to sponsor workers relocating to the UK. Some organisations secure a sponsor licence to assist with the recruitment of just one worker. Others sponsor hundreds of workers, either on a temporary or permanent basis.
By holding a sponsor licence, an organisation is confirming that it will comply with all of the duties of sponsorship, and there are a lot! Duties include reporting, record-keeping, ensuring compliance with immigration laws and relevant sponsorship guidance, complying with wider UK law, and not engaging in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good.
With many of us having just enjoyed a long Easter weekend in the sun, today we’ll look at the reporting duties surrounding a sponsored worker’s absence from work, a duty I discuss with my clients frequently.
First of all, it is very important that those wishing to sponsor workers – and representatives assisting with the licensing process – note the start date of a worker’s employment. This is because, if a sponsored worker cannot commence work on that date, this is something that must be reported via the Sponsor Management System (SMS). This is even if the individual has an application for permission to enter or remain in the UK outstanding.
Organisations must also ensure that the SMS is updated if a sponsored worker is absent from work for more than 10 consecutive days without permission.
A duty I discuss frequently with my clients is that, whilst workers can take unpaid leave, unless an exception applies, organisations must stop sponsoring a worker who is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks in any calendar year. This would apply if the worker is absent for a single period of 4 weeks, or if they have a number of unpaid absences which cumulatively total more than 4 weeks during any calendar year.
Exceptions to the requirement to cease sponsorship would apply if a worker is absent without pay for more than 4 weeks due to: statutory maternity leave, statutory paternity leave, statutory parental leave, statutory shared parental leave, statutory adoption leave, sick leave, assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis provided the sponsor agrees to the absence, or taking part in legally organised industrial action.
It is important that organisations which hold a sponsor licence ensure they monitor their workers by keeping a record of their absences, the reason for the absence, and ensuring this information is promptly provided to the business’s SMS users who can report necessary information about their sponsored workers via the SMS.
With the recent introduction of the Global Business Mobility routes (see my article summarising the changes here), organisations must ensure that they understand their duties as a sponsor, and check that they have relevant policies in place which are followed and can be evidenced if the Home Office decided to conduct a compliance visit to check on an organisation’s adherence to sponsor duties. Failure to abide by duties of sponsorship could result in the revocation of a sponsor licence, so a lot is at stake here.
Latitude Law’s specialist team helps many international businesses and organisations with the sponsorship of workers in the UK. If you would like to speak to one of our experts concerning sponsorship duties, call us now on 0032 2792 3371 (for EU-based clients) or 0044 161 234 6800 (UK & rest of the world) or complete our online enquiry form.