News & Insights

Sponsor Duties in the Context of Flexible Working

What issues should employers be aware of when implementing flexible working arrangements for sponsored workers?

Licensed sponsors have a number of duties and responsibilities – failure to comply with these can result in the revocation of the sponsor licence. You can read more about these below.

These duties and responsibilities include monitoring the immigration status of sponsored workers, ensuring that details of these workers are kept up-to-date, and reporting any problems to the Home Office, such as where a worker fails to comply with the terms of their visa – for example, if they were taking on additional employment. It can be more difficult for a sponsor to adequately comply with their duties and responsibilities if sponsored workers are working from home, whether on a flexible or entirely remote basis.

Originally, working from home concessions were made in the coronavirus guidance, issued at the beginning of the pandemic. This guidance has since been withdrawn, and the concessions are no longer in place, but the sponsor guidance is yet to be updated.

In the meantime, the Home Office policy team has suggested that sponsored workers can work from home, but that any flexible working arrangements should be reported via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). The sponsor should detail the average number of hours spent in and out of the worker’s normal workplace, along with any other relevant information.

Sponsors are also required to comply with Appendix D, ensuring that they keep all documents listed therein up-to-date. This includes the sponsor’s HR systems – so it is essential that sponsors make sure that they are regularly updating their HR records with any flexible working arrangements adopted by migrant workers, and any changes to these arrangements.

Additionally, the Home Office have warned that if a sponsored worker is to be working solely from home, this may call into question the need for them to have a UK work visa at all!

To help ensure compliance with their sponsorship duties in this context, sponsors should implement a flexible working policy, setting out how any flexible working arrangements will work in practice. This policy should require that written permission be sought by a migrant worker before they work from overseas and authorise the employer to monitor migrant worker’s attendance and absences.

Any attempts by a migrant worker to work overseas without permission should immediately be reported to the Home Office.

If you have any questions about introducing flexible working arrangements for your migrant workers, or would like us to help with applying for or managing your sponsor licence, then please get in touch at [email protected].