Government advice for Tier 2 Sponsors and Tier 2 workers

Government advice for Tier 2 Sponsors and Tier 2 workers

Do sponsors need to take any action regarding worker absences?
  • If workers sponsored under Tier 2 are absent from work for any reason that is ‘due to the coronavirus outbreak’, sponsors should treat this as an authorised absence.
  • They do not have to report anything to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) or withdraw sponsorship.
  • The Home Office has confirmed that it ‘recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against…employees who are unable to attend…work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor…employees despite absences for this reason’.
  • Sponsors should though, keep some evidence – for example, email communication with the worker – to demonstrate that the period of absence was due to coronavirus related concerns.
Can sponsored workers work from home and does this need to be reported to UKVI?
  • If working from home is ‘directly related to the pandemic’, this is permitted and does not have to be reported to UKVI.
Can sponsored workers be placed onto the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and, if so, is that public funds?
  • The Government have said that “ you can temporarily reduce the pay of your sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower. Any reductions must be part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same. These reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to at least previous levels once these arrangements have ended’.
  • Sponsors will need to report that a worker has been placed on to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and to report the reduction in salary. Reports should be made within the time-frame set out in the Sponsor Guidance where possible.
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not defined as ‘public funds’ therefore, migrants who are placed on furlough will not be in breach of their conditions of stay.
Can sponsors grant requests for general unpaid leave?
  • Sponsors have also always been allowed to permit sponsored workers to take up to four weeks’ unpaid leave during a calendar year.
  • The current Sponsor Guidance states that if a sponsored worker takes more time off on an unpaid basis, the sponsor must stop sponsoring the worker.
  • However, the Home Office has confirmed that it is relaxing this for now and has stated that ‘sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship if they consider there are exceptional circumstances when an employee is absent from work without pay for four weeks or more’.
Can work hours and pay be reduced?
  • This is allowed providing the new rate is not below current appropriate rate requirements for sponsored roles and the role/hours otherwise meet the requirements set out in the Sponsor Guidance.
What if sponsored workers are made redundant?
  • If this happens, the sponsor must report the withdrawal of sponsorship in the usual manner. UKVI will then eventually curtail the sponsored worker’s leave to remain (usually to 60 days). If the sponsored worker is able to find a new role and sponsor that can issue a CoS, they will be able to apply for further leave to remain.
What if a sponsor has issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and the sponsored employee has not yet applied for a visa
  • The Home Office has stated - ‘The employee…will still be able to apply for a visa. The start date for the…employment stated on the CoS…may have changed. We will not automatically refuse such cases. For example, we may accept a CoS…if they have become invalid because the employee…was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. We will consider this on a case by case basis.’
What if the sponsored worker’s start date is delayed?
  • The Home Office has stated - ‘If you have issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) or a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and the sponsored employee or student has not yet applied for a visa, the employee…will still be able to apply for a visa. The start date for the…employment stated on the CoS…may have changed. We will not automatically refuse such cases. For example, we may accept a CoS…if they have become invalid because the employee…was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. We will consider this on a case by case basis.’

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