HCR Law Events

7 February 2023

Why become a sponsor?

This is a very topical question now due to the current lack of skilled workers in the UK. This shortage has been recognised in numerous skilled and unskilled workers jobs.

Since more organisations are looking to employ migrant workers, it seems vital that they be aware of the risks and concerns that come with the territory. Also, the benefits of becoming a sponsor and the duties it entails.

Once you have identified that you need more skilled workers and simply cannot find them in the UK, then you must start considering the prospects of becoming a sponsor and applying for a sponsorship licence.

To be accepted as a sponsor, the importance of the worker is paramount.

Employers should be aware of the following factors:

Firstly, they should ensure that they are fully compliant with employment law, meaning they should be aware of all the relevant updates and have them in place at the relevant times. There should also be a clear system in place that help the workers.

It is imperative that they treat the workers equally and ensure all necessary steps are taken to comply this legal requirement, such as all legal documents being translated into their native language and ensuring they have access to someone who can speak to them in their native language.

It is very important to ensure the migrant worker does not feel cut off or discriminated against for not being British or for not speaking English.

This is not a problem limited to the organisations hiring these workers, the issue goes further than that – hence the need for more education and understanding. There needs to be clear guidelines on compliance and what is acceptable and what is not.

More training needs to be implemented to ensure these issues are spotted at the start. The managers should be aware as should HR regarding the risks and being aware of the signs before they become an issue.

Education on exploitation and encouragement to report these concerns need to be spoken about and implemented. It is also advisable to be aware of the recruiters and suppliers used to ensure you are aware of their own practices.

It should be made clear that migrant workers in the UK are eligible for the same rights as other workers in the UK, but you need to question if the migrant worker knows this. Are they aware of their rights? Have they been explained? Understanding this is of great importance and ensuring these rights are respected are a legal necessity.

Want to hire from abroad?

If your business, like many, is unable to find suitable applicants in the UK, then you will need to review the option of applying for a sponsorship licence. When applying for a sponsorship licence you must have clear reasons why you will be applying, it should be noted that the sponsorship licence is detailed and complex.

The guidelines need to be followed and vigorously complied with. The main reason for this is to ensure businesses are aware of their responsibilities and the duties they need to carry out to sponsor a migrant worker.

The government are becoming sensitive to the issue of migrant workers due to several cases that have emerged over the years highlighting the abuses and exploitation they may face. This is a very topical area and one that should be highlighted to ensure we are able to deter unscrupulous employees from carrying out such actions and profiting from such misery.

Since Brexit, UK employers are struggling to find appropriate skilled workers and the need to look outside the UK is a fact. Hence the need for more guidance; the government recognises the importance of compliance and is purposely making this harder to ensure everything is done in accordance with the law.

The government have gone one step further by lowering skill and salary thresholds, removed the cap on migrant numbers they are recognising the need in the UK to be a little bit more flexible. Even though the UK are recognising the need for a larger number of skilled workers they are also recognising the need for stricter rules and more guidance. With this comes more compliance and amendments to the sponsors’ duties.

What are the sponsors duties?

Once you have received your sponsorship licence and have successfully determined a suitable applicant you have an array of duties that you need to ensure you carry out.

Initially you will have the responsibility to ensure you correctly apply for the correct CoS. A CoS is a Certificate of Sponsorship. If you are applying for a skilled worker from overseas -entry clearance – you will be applying for a Defined CoS.

An Undefined CoS will be used for skilled workers applying for permission from within the UK.

Once you have identified the correct CoS, applied for it, and it has been granted you will then have to assign it to the relevant worker. When assigning the CoS, ensure that you have checked all the relevant information. You should have a clear start date in mind as this must be entered on the certificate.

However, the guidance has been updated to state that a worker may start working for the relevant company once they have permission to enter the UK or stay in the UK.

Another amendment has been added to allow the start date to be delayed for a 28-day period if needed. However, this is dependent on there being a good reason.

Other details must be clearly stated in the summary regarding the job description. You must clearly state the number of hours the applicant will have to work. You must also ensure you use the correct SOC code or relevant occupation code to avoid issues with the Home Office.

You clearly must notify the Home Office of any unpaid absences. This is part of your reporting duties that the sponsor must ensure he complies with. The sponsor must be aware that they must stop sponsoring a worker who is absent from work without pay for more than four weeks in total in any calendar year.

It is imperative that the sponsor complies with this and ensure they adheres to their responsibilities such as monitoring the employees and have the relevant systems in place. This will allow the sponsor to monitor the employees’ immigration status, ensure they have copies of the relevant documentation such as a passport, track and record the employees’ attendance, keep employees contact up to date and importantly be aware that they have a duty to report to the UKVI if there is a problem e.g., if the employee stops coming to work.

Even though the duties relating to becoming a sponsor have become stricter the benefits of applying for a sponsorship licence talks for itself. It allows the businesses to grow and develop without this constant fear of not being able to get the most appropriate and qualified skilled worker. It allows companies to truly utilise the skills of foreign workers which will benefit the company and UK.

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Joanna Safadi, Associate

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