New guidance for sponsors
on reporting hybrid and
remote working

On 5 March 2024, the Home Office published an updated version of the Workers and Temporary Workers Guidance for Sponsors Part 3: Sponsor Duties and Compliance.

The guidance has been updated to clarify reporting requirements on hybrid and remote working, to include details of revised reporting requirements for offshore workers, and to advise sponsors whose licences are due to expire on or after 6 April 2024 they no longer need to apply to renew their licence.

Sponsors of migrant workers are advised to take this opportunity to review the guidance and ensure they are up to date with the latest requirements on reporting and wider compliance duties.

Hybrid and remote working

With hybrid and remote working patterns now commonplace in many UK businesses, the Home Office has provided greater clarity for employers offering such arrangements to their sponsored workers.

The updated guidance for sponsors now states: “We recognise that many organisations have adopted a “hybrid working” model, where their workers work remotely (from either their home or another remote site, such as a work hub space) on a regular basis, as well as regularly attending a ‘traditional’ work location (such as one or more of your offices or branches, or a client site).

You no longer need to tell us if a sponsored worker is moving to a hybrid working pattern but you must continue to report any changes to their main office work location, or of any new client sites, if applicable, and maintain suitable records of your sponsored workers’ working patterns.

You must, however, tell us, via your SMS account, if any sponsored worker is, or will be, working entirely remotely, with little or no requirement to attend your premises or a client site (a contractual home worker). In these cases, we reserve the right to ask you to explain why you need to sponsor the worker to come to the UK if (for example) they could work remotely from their home country.”

The guidance goes on to clarify that sponsors are only required to tell the Home Office about changes to a migrant worker’s regular working pattern, and that there is no need to report any day-to-day changes in work location (for example, if a worker occasionally works at a different branch or site, or from home).

Offshore workers

A person is an “offshore worker” if they arrive directly in UK waters for the purpose of work without first entering through the UK landmass. Like other workers, an offshore worker must apply for, and be granted, entry clearance or permission before they arrive in UK waters for the purpose of working in those waters.

From 12 April 2023, offshore workers (or their sponsor, if they have one) are required to notify the Secretary of State when they arrive in and leave UK waters.

This means that if you are sponsoring an offshore worker, you must inform the Home Office of the dates when that worker first arrives in UK waters at the beginning of the job they are being sponsored for, and when they leave UK waters at the end of the job they are being sponsored for.

Previously, sponsors were required to notify the Home Office by emailing a dedicated offshore worker notification inbox. However, the guidance has been updated to reflect that these notifications for sponsored offshore workers must now be made via the online Sponsorship Management System (SMS), rather than via email.

Sponsor licence renewals

In January, the Home Office announced that they would be removing the requirement for sponsors to renew their sponsor licence.

The guidance has now been updated to reflect this change, and contains the following note: “If your licence is due to expire on or after 6 April 2024, you no longer need to renew your licence. We will publish further information about this change in a future update to this guidance.”

If your licence is due to expire on or before 5 April 2024, you will still need to apply to renew it and pay the application fee.

Questions on compliance?

If you have any questions about these changes and how it may impact your business, Smith Stone Walters can help.

To find out how we can support your business in maintaining compliance with the sponsorship and immigration rules, please contact us today.

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