The Government has updated its guidance for sponsors of migrant workers to include a new requirement to inform the Home Office of any changes to a sponsored worker’s normal work location, including where an individual is, or will be, working on a remote or hybrid basis.
Previously, during the Covid pandemic, the Home Office demonstrated flexibility in its guidance by not imposing this requirement when individuals were working remotely because of Covid. This change in approach likely reflects the fact that many businesses have moved their operations to remote or hybrid working models during the pandemic, and the Home Office now wants to keep a closer eye on sponsored individuals who may be performing their roles on a remote or hybrid working basis.
When does a sponsor need to contact the Home Office?
Where a worker is sponsored, a sponsor must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to them. On assignment, a sponsor will provide certain details about the individual to the Home Office, including the address they will be working at.
Now, a sponsor must inform the Home Office within 10 working days of a sponsored worker’s normal work location changing from the address provided on their CoS. This includes where there has been one of the following changes to a worker’s circumstances:
- Site change – where a worker will be working at a different site, branch or office, which is either the sponsor organisation’s or a different client’s site;
- Remote working – where a worker will be working remotely from home on a permanent or full-time basis, with little or no requirement to attend the sponsor organisation’s workplace; or
- Hybrid working – where a worker will be moving to a hybrid working pattern, i.e. they will partly work remotely from home or another address and partly from the sponsor’s organisation’s premises, or those of a client.
This does not include short time or temporary changes to working patterns, for example, where a worker occasionally works at a different location. These types of changes do not need to be reported to the Home Office.
Sponsors who fail to comply with this requirement and their other reporting obligations risk their licences being suspended, revoked or downgraded by the Home Office.
What should sponsors be doing now?
Employers who are licenced sponsors of migrant workers should take note and review the circumstances of their sponsored workers to ensure that the Home Office has been kept up to date on any changes to their working patterns. This includes any permanent changes to working patterns that have remained in place following the pandemic. Employers may need to review these arrangements and report any such changes as soon as possible.
Where there have been changes to working patterns or inconsistencies in the details provided for sponsored workers, the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) should be used to record any updated information.
When changes to the working patterns of sponsored workers are anticipated, sponsors should be aware of the need to inform the Home Office of any changes within a short time. We recommend building this requirement into any internal procedures an organisation may have, as well as carrying out training for any individuals involved in sponsoring individuals and using the SMS.
Sponsors should also note that where they are sponsoring individuals to carry out roles on a hybrid or fully remote basis, the Home Office might challenge these arrangements and question whether there is a requirement for an individual to be based in the UK. Where this applies, an employer should be prepared to justify the need to sponsor the individual and put forward a business case to demonstrate that need.