Survey raises question on whether sponsors may be missing reporting duties
09 June 2020
We recently conducted an employer survey which revealed that only 10% of respondents had made reports on sponsored workers’ conditions changing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although working from home has been excused from reporting duties, the survey response could indicate that some businesses may not yet have considered their sponsor reporting obligations when reducing salaries or changing roles for sponsored workers to address business needs during this time. This is understandable given the overwhelming nature of the situation, but reporting is a very important action to take if required. Alternatively, it may indicate that workers who are sponsored under Tier 2 tend to be highly valued by companies and integral to the business and therefore less likely to be furloughed or otherwise affected by salary reductions, even temporarily.
Most employers who responded to the survey (65%) have used remote right to work checks since the lockdown began. It is likely this figure will increase as home working continues for many, with 1 in 5 respondents predicting they won’t open office until September or later. [C110][C111][C112][C113] Please see our guidance for these checks in this article.
41% of employers have deferred or cancelled international assignments. Although flight restrictions remain a concern, certain visa application centres are now starting to re-open. This hopefully marks the beginning of visa processing interruptions easing. It is likely that interruptions will continue in some places, for example if future waves Covid-19 cases result in lockdown periods that force visa application centres to close again. However, the Home Office is doing what it can to avoid backlogs until normal service can resume.
Only 2% of respondents have used the exceptional in-country switch scheme, potentially missing an opportunity to do so.
Finally, only 2% have notified the Home Office of corporate changes eg a change of Authorising Officer or corporate ownership. This figure is potentially indicating that some such notifications are being missed. It is likely that the figure will increase as more senior HR Directors move and need to pass on the role of Authorising Officer, and more companies go through ownership changes as a reflection of the volatile economic times.
As we move forward to a time where many employers are being forced to consider making redundancies as well as permanent changes to workers’ salaries, working hours and other terms of employment, it is very important to remember that this too needs to be reported for any sponsored workers. Sponsors should also be aware that the Immigration Skills Charge must be full borne by them, despite it being acceptable for many of the fees associated with Tier 2 applications to be made subject to a clawback clause.
If you have any questions about your sponsored workers, please contact us.