Can a sponsored worker take
on supplementary employment?

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing thousands of UK employers to place their staff on furlough or reduced hours, many workers are seeking supplementary employment to make use of their time away from their main role and to top up their income.

Migrant workers in the UK on a Tier 2 skilled work visa are permitted, in limited circumstances, to carry out other paid and voluntary work besides the role listed on their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, there is currently no limit on the number of hours that sponsored migrants are permitted to work or volunteer if they have a second job as an NHS doctor, nurse or paramedic.

However, the Home Office places certain limitations and requirements on any employment undertaken by sponsored migrant workers that falls outside of the role they are being sponsored to carry out. In this article, we explore the rules surrounding supplementary and secondary employment for sponsored migrant workers, and the steps that must be taken to ensure compliance with the Immigration Rules.

Can a sponsored worker take on another job?

According to the Home Office guidance for sponsors, migrant workers sponsored under a Tier 2 skilled work visa are permitted to undertake other work besides the role for which their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) was assigned for. This is known as supplementary employment.

Employers hiring migrants in a supplementary role do not need to be licenced sponsors, and are not required to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).

However, there are limited circumstances in which sponsored workers are allowed to carry out supplementary employment, and certain conditions that must be met. All supplementary employment must:

  • Be for no more than 20 hours per week
  • Take place outside of the normal working hours assigned on the migrant’s CoS
  • Be in the same profession and at the same professional level as the migrant’s main job as detailed on the CoS, or be a job in a shortage occuptation listed in the Immigration Rules

Does the Home Office need to know about supplementary employment?

Migrants do not need to inform the Home Office that they are undertaking supplementary employment, as long as it meets the above criteria.

However, any migrant undertaking supplementary work has a responsibility to inform their new employer that the role will be supplementary to the work they are being sponsored to carry out. This is so the supplementary employer can make the necessary right to work checks and comply with their duties as an employer to prevent illegal working.

What are the rules for secondary employment?

If a migrant worker wishes to take on a second job that falls outside of the above criteria, the rules are stricter.

Once a sponsored worker has started work on a Tier 2 visa, they are allowed to apply for permission to take on other employment which does not meet the supplementary employment criteria. This is known as secondary employment.

Any secondary employment must be with a licenced sponsor, and the migrant must be able to meet the relevant criteria for the category in which their secondary employment falls.

Businesses employing migrants in a secondary role must recruit them in line with the Home Office rules for sponsoring workers, and will need to assign a new CoS to allow the migrant to apply to vary their existing leave. It should be noted that a second CoS cannot be assigned to a migrant until the migrant has used their first one.

Can sponsored workers study in the UK?

Home Office guidance states that migrants being sponsored under a Tier 2 visa are permitted to undertake courses of study alongside their work. Courses of study can be carried out anywhere the migrant chooses, and the institution does not have to be a licenced student sponsor.

There is no limit to the number of hours or level of course that sponsored workers are allowed to study, however any study that is undertaken should not affect the migrant’s ability to carry out the job they have been sponsored to do.

However, it should be noted that there are certain areas of study in which migrants must be 18 years of age or over, and apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate in order to commence their studies. More information on the scheme can be found here.

Speak to an immigration expert

If you are a sponsored worker or an employer of sponsored workers and you have questions about supplementary employment or any other area of immigration compliance, Smith Stone Walters would be delighted to help.

Our team of immigration experts can offer up to date advice and practical support to ensure you and your business can reach your immigration goals whilst remaining compliant with your legal obligations.

To speak to an advisor, please call 020 8461 6660 or email

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