Following our earlier blog on Right to Work Checks, what happens if you need to recruit foreign workers, is it possible, and what do you need to consider?
Employing foreign workers in the UK can be a valuable option for employers looking to fill vacancies with skilled workers or expand their workforce. However, employing foreign workers can be complex and requires careful consideration of various legal and administrative requirements. Here are the key steps employers must follow when employing foreign workers in the UK, including obtaining sponsorship licences and conducting the necessary checks.
Step 1: Obtain a Sponsorship Licence
Before employing foreign workers, employers must obtain a Sponsorship Licence from the Home Office. The Sponsorship Licence allows employers to sponsor foreign workers who wish to work in the UK. The application process can take several weeks, and employers must demonstrate that they are a genuine and credible business, have appropriate HR systems to manage sponsored workers, and comply with UK immigration laws. The licence will also specify the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) the employer can issue.
This is not a process to be entered into lightly; the application process is complex, and the requirements for documentation from an employer must be strictly met.
Conditions for a sponsorship licence:
- The employer must be a genuine business: The employer must prove that they are a legitimate business operating lawfully in the UK. This includes providing evidence of registration with Companies House or other relevant regulatory bodies and evidence of trading activities and financial viability.
- The employer must have appropriate HR systems in place: The employer must demonstrate that they have adequate HR systems to manage sponsored workers, including systems for monitoring and reporting any changes to the worker’s circumstances, such as changes to their job role or salary.
- The employer must comply with UK immigration laws: The employer must comply with UK immigration laws and must not have a history of non-compliance. The Home Office may conduct checks to ensure that the employer has not previously breached immigration laws or had a Sponsorship Licence revoked.
- The employer must appoint a key contact: The employer must appoint a key contact responsible for managing the Sponsorship Licence and acting as the main point of contact with the Home Office.
- The employer must pay the required fees: There is a fee for applying for a Sponsorship Licence and ongoing fees for renewing and maintaining the licence.
- The employer must have a genuine need for the sponsored worker: The employer must demonstrate that they have a genuine need for the sponsored worker and that the job meets the relevant skill level and salary requirements for the type of visa the worker will be applying for.
It is important for employers to carefully review these conditions and ensure that they meet all of the requirements before applying for a Sponsorship Licence. Failure to meet these conditions can result in the application being rejected.
Step 2: Issue a Certificate of Sponsorship
Once the employer has obtained a Sponsorship Licence, they can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the foreign worker they wish to employ. The CoS confirms that the worker has been offered a job in the UK and is sponsored by the employer. The worker will need the CoS to apply for a visa to enter or remain in the UK.
Employers must ensure that the job they offer meets the relevant skill level and salary requirements for the type of visa the worker will be applying for. There are different visa categories depending on the skill level and salary of the job, such as the Skilled Worker Visa or the Intra-Company Transfer Visa. Employers should carefully review the requirements for each category to ensure that they offer a job that meets the necessary criteria.
Step 3: Conduct the necessary checks
Employers have a legal duty to conduct certain checks on their employees to ensure they are eligible to work in the UK. These checks include:
- Checking the worker’s right-to-work documents: Employers must still check that the worker has the right to work in the UK by verifying their identity and immigration status. This includes checking their visa once issued to them after submitting their Certificate of Sponsorship.
- Do you need to conduct a criminal record check: Employers must carry out a criminal record check if the worker will be working with vulnerable people, such as children or the elderly. While this is often part of their visa process, if your process requires you to do it, ensure you follow it.
It is important for employers to keep records of these checks, as failure to do so can result in fines or even criminal prosecution.
Employing foreign workers in the UK can be a valuable option for employers, but it requires careful planning and compliance with UK immigration laws. Obtaining a Sponsorship Licence and issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship are the first steps in the process, followed by conducting the necessary checks to ensure the worker is eligible to work in the UK. Employers should seek professional advice to avoid potential legal and financial consequences if they are unsure about any aspect of the process.