Tech Employer Considerations: Sponsored Workers in a Hybrid or Remote Workplace
May 3, 2023
By: Laxmi Limbani, Halil Kaya
The world of work is evolving rapidly in ways unpredictable prior to COVID-19. As technology employers adapt to new methods of working, different work patterns are being seen across the sector. Employers cannot overlook the influence COVID-19 has had on their workforces, including attitudes towards working remotely and, often, across multiple sites.
This creates several compliance challenges, including ensuring that Right to Work (RTW) checks are carried out satisfactorily to earn a statutory defence. This will be considered in more detail in the second part of this blog series, coming soon. Further to the recent updates to the Home Office’s Sponsor Guidance, there have been changes related to employee reporting requirements, specifically when employees have hybrid working patterns.
What are the reporting changes relating to hybrid working patterns?
- The guidance states that sponsors are required to notify when “a sponsored worker’s normal work location (as recorded on their Certificate of Sponsorship, or CoS) changes;” which includes a situation where the sponsored worker “has moved, or will be moving, to a hybrid working pattern.”
- A “hybrid working pattern” is defined as a situation where “the worker will work remotely on a regular and planned basis from their home or another address, such as a work hub space, that is not a client site or an address listed on your licence, in addition to regularly attending one or more of your offices or branches, or a client site.”
- The guidance adds that “sponsors do not need to report day-to-day changes in work location (for example, if a worker occasionally works at a different branch or site, or from home). Sponsors need only tell the Home Office about changes to their regular working patterns.”
What does this mean?
On careful reading of the guidance, what is strictly required is a reporting of the fact that the normal work location/regular working patterns of a worker has changed, including to remote or hybrid working. The details of the changed location/working arrangement are not necessarily required.
How do I comply?
As of 31 March 2023, there are two options that sponsors can follow to comply with this updated guidance.
Option 1: Report the hybrid working pattern without specifying remote work addresses
- Where a new CoS is being issued, in addition to the main office location from which the worker will be working, include a sponsor note to confirm that the sponsored worker will be working under a hybrid working pattern. You should identify the number of days they will work from the office per week and the number of days remotely, or provide a brief explanation as to the arrangement if it is not on a weekly basis.
- Where a CoS is to be updated by way of SMS update, the update should state that the sponsored worker will be working under a hybrid working pattern and identify the number of days they will work from the office per week and the number of days remotely, or provide a brief explanation as to the arrangement if it is not on a weekly basis.
This option meets the requirements of the guidance and has the advantage of imposing less burdens on a sponsor.
Option 2: Report the hybrid working pattern and specify remote work addresses:
- Where a new CoS is being issued, as an additional work address (for example, the individual’s home) from the outset of CoS issuance (where issued on or after 31 March 2023).
- Where a CoS is to be updated by way of SMS update, in the same way that ordinary change of work locations are filed. This will have an ongoing reporting requirement in case of home moves or working at alternative office hubs.
This option may be favoured for the sake of full transparency, but of course imposes added administrative burdens each time the remote addresses change.
Irrespective of which of the above options is preferred, there are additional considerations that may apply in relation to hybrid working, for example:
- Office hub – assuming membership to an office hub is personal, you must know the potential locations from which the sponsored worker will work.
- Attendance – how will you manage your compliance duties to know that your sponsored worker is present for work?
- Communications with sponsored worker – how will you manage record-keeping responsibilities and ensure that your sponsored worker is updating you of changes in real time? For example, will you track this via an application or an internal HR system?
You should be ready to explain your processes and procedures to the UKVI on any future audit.
Need to know more?
Please look out for part two of this blog series coming soon, which will focus on Right to Work checks. For more information on sponsored workers in hybrid or remote work settings, please contact Senior Manager Laxmi Limbani at [email protected] and Trainee Solicitor Halil Kaya at [email protected].
This blog was published on 3 May 2023, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep up to date with all the latest updates on global immigration, please subscribe to our alerts and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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