The Home Office has, for the first time, published guidance for sponsors of hybrid and home workers on how to update their records. It means employers that sponsor foreign workers to work in the UK need to be ready to report changes to where those workers work to the Home Office within 10 working days.
It comes as part of a raft of updated guidance for sponsors published by the Home Office. On home and hybrid working it says employers must notify UKVI if a sponsored worker’s normal work location, as recorded on their certificate of sponsorship, changes.
The reporting duty will be triggered where 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)’ or they have ‘moved, or will be moving, to a hybrid working pattern’. It will also apply where the worker is, or will be, ‘working at a different site, branch or office of your organisation, or a different client’s site, not previously declared to UKVI”’.
So, let’s hear more about the changes. Earlier I caught up with immigration specialist Alex Wright:
Alex Wright: “What the Home Office have finally done after a fairly long wait is they have put in place some guidance on what they consider hybrid working to be, and obligations on what employers need to do in terms of hybrid working and working from home arrangements. When COVID came around, they didn't really do anything, to be honest, and I think we just accepted that the norm was the norm and employers were going to carry on as best they could but now that a lot of these arrangements have become more formalised post COVID what the Home Office wants to see from employees is something more rigid and more clear. So, there are essentially three things that employees need to be aware of. One is if this is just a flexible working arrangement whereby you might occasionally have the day working from home or might have an occasional day where you work from one of those sorts of, you know, communal work hubs, or potentially from a different office or site, that is fine, that does not need to be reported to the Home Office. If you have a formalised hybrid working arrangement where you have a certain number of days in the office and a certain number of days at home, the Home Office do need to become aware of that and, likewise, if you are working from home more or less full time with very limited access to the office, the Home Office needs to be aware of that as well. There is the question why would someone necessarily be sponsored to come to the UK and then work from home most of the time? There can be perfectly decent justifications for that. It might be because of the needs of their clients, there may be sites they need to visit, there may be data controls that justify them being in the UK rather than their country of origin. The Home Office, when it comes to reporting, normally want reporting of changes of this nature to be done within 10 working days. Now, for people who were already employed, and already had these arrangements in place, and had them long before the Home Office made this change to the guidance recently, we still do suggest that employers go through and make those reports and make that known. But certainly, for people who are having arrangements formalised or agreed, or new people entering a business, we would strongly recommend that that is either mentioned to the Home Office as part of the application process, or a sponsor notice added to their Certificate of Sponsorship on the sponsor management system to confirm.”
Joe Glavina: “What about the actual practical steps of updating the records, Alex. How difficult will updating be?”
Alex Wright: “Updating your records with the Home Office is actually surprisingly easy, it's one of the few nice things they have going for them. When a sponsor logs into the sponsor management system they are able to access what's known as a Certificate of Sponsorship, a CoS, for any one of their sponsored workers and they will be able to add a sponsor note to that confirming what the working arrangements are. Another thing to be aware of is just because someone is working from home, does not mean that that person needs to register their home address with the Home Office as a sort of work site. It's perfectly admissible to just do a sponsor note saying this person works from home this many days a week, you don't need to start uploading that level of personal information to the Home Office.”
Joe Glavina: “Finally, Alex, anything else you’d like to pass on to viewers?”
Alex Wright: “Yes, I would always say it's always useful to have a check of the employee guidance every now and then. The Home Office do make regular updates to it so just make sure that whoever's responsible for your sponsor management system is keeping an eye on any changes. Normally, if there's anything significant, the Home Office will note that as an alert on the homepage on the sponsor management system. Something to be aware of for now, just generally for sponsoring skilled workers, a number of the salary levels have been changed and also the basic level at which skilled workers and global business mobility workers start at has gone up slightly. So, just be aware that if you've made a job offer to somebody in the past few months, you might want to just go back and check that the salary requirements are still met.”
The immigration team have written about the new reporting duty in some detail in their article for Out-Law. That’s: ‘Guidance issued on UK immigration reporting duties for hybrid workers’ and we have put a link to it in the transcript of this programme, as well as a link to the guidance itself.