It appears that the Home Office may be about to ‘u-turn’ on a recent announced policy change requiring sponsors to report changes in working location. In response to the widespread shift towards hybrid working and working from home following the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Home Office had amended its guidance on sponsor reporting mandating sponsoring employers to inform the Home Office if a sponsored worker switches to a hybrid working arrangement. It is now expected that these changes will be removed or amended by the Home Office. As the extent of any u-turn on this policy change is not yet clear, the following explains how the new location reporting requirement may work if it is retained.
The new reporting requirement for licenced sponsors is contained in paragraph C1.19 of Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors Part 3: Sponsor duties and compliance. Under the section on ‘change of work location’, paragraph C1.19 states:
“C1.19. You must tell us if a sponsored worker’s normal work location (as recorded on their CoS) changes. This includes where:
C1.20 clarifies that a ‘hybrid working pattern’ refers to a working arrangement whereby an employee works remotely on a regular and planned basis from their home or another address in addition to regularly attending one or more of their employer’s offices or branches or a client site. “Other” addresses may include a work hub space that is not a client site (mentioned on the Certificate of Sponsorship as a work address) and is not an address listed on the sponsor licence.
In terms of when changes in work location should be reported to the Home Office, C1.21 further clarifies that there is no requirement to report day-to-day changes in work location. Hence if a sponsored worker works in a different branch or site or from home occasionally (but not regularly), this does not need to be reported. The obligation to report changes in working location only applies if there is a permanent and ongoing change to the regular working pattern of a sponsored worker.
Changes in normal working patterns, as with any change in circumstance for sponsored workers, should be reported to the Home Office within 10 working days of the change. This timeline would start from the date that the worker officially switches from working in the office to hybrid working/work from home.
This change imposes an additional obligation for sponsor licence holders to the existing reporting requirements. This means that sponsors may need to report:
For future sponsored employees, who will be confirmed as working on a hybrid or work from home arrangement, it is advisable to add a comment to the Certificate of Sponsorship (by way of a “sponsor note”) confirming the working arrangement. This can be added after it is assigned. It is also advisable to agree on a standard format for this comment to ensure consistency of use.
Once the change in working pattern has been reported through the Sponsor Management system (by a Level 1 user), the sponsor will have discharged their reporting duty. It is advised that the employer should still keep internal records of changes in employment contractual terms, ready for inspection (for example a letter confirming the change in work location/work pattern).
When reviewing these changes to the reporting guidelines, it may be a useful opportunity for some sponsors to review (short and long-term) working arrangements of their sponsored staff, check their worker’s contact details are up to date, as well as checking other organisation and migrant reporting requirements are being followed.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with sponsor compliance. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!