On 13 April 2023, the Home Office released an updated version of Part 3 of Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors. This part of the guidance deals with sponsor duties and compliance.
The main updates deal with sponsors’ reporting duties, including introducing reporting requirements for offshore workers and clarifying the requirements around absences and failure to begin work. A licensed sponsor must report a sponsored worker’s failure to start their employment. If their start date is delayed by more than 28 days, the employer must either report the new start date to the Home Office and the reasons for the delayed start, or stop sponsoring the worker. This is a very significant improvement on the previous position where, a new visa application was required, where the start date has been delayed by 28 days or more.
One significant point of clarification applies to sponsored workers who switch to fully remote or hybrid working. The updated Home Office guidance confirms that the requirement to report a change in a sponsored worker’s work location, now extends to situations where:
- the worker is, or will be, working at a different site, branch or office of the organisation, or a different client’s site, not previously declared to the Home Office
- the worker is, or will be, working remotely from home on a permanent or full-time basis (with little or no requirement to physically attend a workplace)
- the worker has moved, or will be moving, to a hybrid working pattern
Hybrid working means that the worker works from the sponsor’s offices or branches, or client site, as well as working remotely on a regular and planned basis. The remote working can be from home, or from another address such as a work hub space, which is not a client site or an address listed on the sponsor’s licence.
Sponsors must report changes in the sponsored worker’s circumstances, including a switch to remote or hybrid working within 10 working days of the change occurring. Changes should be reported via the Sponsor Management System and sponsors should ensure that they notify the Home Office of all of the addresses where the employee will be working regularly. Day to day changes in work location, such as occasionally attending a different site or office, do not need to be reported.
We recommend that sponsor licence holders carry out a full review of their sponsored worker’s work location, checking the work location recorded on the Certificate of Sponsorship or any SMS reports against the sponsored worker’s current working arrangements. It is better to make a late report than not to report at all. The Sponsor Compliance Unit will check work locations as part of any Sponsor Licence Audit and if sponsored workers have moved to a hybrid working pattern and that has not been reported to the Home Office, then this would be a clear breach of sponsor duties.
For further insights into sponsor duties and wider employment law considerations surrounding remote and hybrid working, see Andrew Wallace and Louise Crichton’s blog The Perfect Storm – Homeworking and Skilled Worker shortages in the Information and Communications sector.
Businesses who require further information and advice in respect of obtaining or maintaining their Sponsor Licence or other visa routes should contact our specialist Immigration team on 03330 430350 for further information and advice. If you have questions or concerns about implementing a hybrid working policy in your organisation our Employment team can be contacted on 03330 430350.