28 April 2023
Law at Work - May 2023 – 6 of 8 Insights
The Home Office has recently updated its sponsor guidance on employer duties, following its last published Statement of Changes and Spring policy review. The guidance now includes clarification on the need for sponsors to report post-pandemic hybrid and remote working patterns, as well as other updates to sponsor duties.
The most important thing for HR teams to be aware of from the Statement of Changes is the increase to minimum salary thresholds for sponsored work visas, including the Skilled Worker and Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes. Workers issued with Certificates of Sponsorship (COS) assigned on or after 12 April 2023 will need to be paid at higher minimum rates than previously.
The National Minimum Wage increase took effect on 1 April 2023. Sponsors must pay sponsored workers at or above the revised National Minimum Wage (NMW) rate in all cases, whenever the COS was assigned. The revised National Minimum Wage rates are:
|23 and over||£10.42|
|21 - 22||£10.18|
In most cases, the new minimum salary requirements for sponsored workers will exceed NMW, because the minimum salary that all sponsors must pay is whichever is the higher of:
The general salary threshold increased for all COS assigned after 12 April 2023 – and for most roles the going rate increased too. But for any sponsored worker holding a COS issued before that date, the previous salary requirements will apply until they submit a fresh application with a new COS (assuming salary meets the latest NMW levels). In that situation, salary does not have to be increased until the next COS is assigned.
The general annual salary threshold has increased as below:
Where the going rate – the market rate for the particular job to be performed, taking account of any available discounts – is above the general threshold, the employer must pay the higher amount. For most roles, the going rates increased on 12 April but in a change to the previous rules, those going rates are now calculated using a working week of 37.5 hours, rather than 39 hours as previously. Employers need to be careful to ensure that where the weekly working hours (including paid breaks) are above 37.5 hours, they pro-rate the going rate upwards accordingly. For jobs where there are irregular (fluctuating) hours, there is guidance on how sponsors should calculate weekly hours using averages, so that sponsors can still work out the minimum going rate that should apply.
By way of example of the going rate increases, for a COS assigned after 12 April the annual salary for a 40 hour per week Sales Account Manager role (covered by occupation code 3545) increased from £36,310 to £37,440 and the going rate for a Software Developer role (covered by code 2136) increased from £34,155 to £36,270.
It has always been the case that employers must report a change in work location of a sponsored worker to the Home Office. The latest guidance now provides clarity on reporting of hybrid and remote working arrangements. Any change to the ‘normal work location’ recorded on the COS must be reported to the Home Office through the Sponsor Management System (SMS). This includes where:
A 'hybrid working pattern' is 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 approved address listed on your licence, in addition to regularly attending one or more of your offices or branches, or a client site.
Sponsors are not required to report day-to-day changes in work location. For instance, if a worker occasionally works at a different branch or site, or from home occasionally, this will not need to be reported. Only changes to a sponsored worker’s regular working pattern will need to be reported.
For workers that are fully remote, the Home Office may query whether the worker needs to be in the UK, and therefore whether there is a genuine UK vacancy, on the basis that they could perform their role from anywhere. Employers should be prepared to justify the arrangements, for example due to the need to avoid time zone differences on a team project.
Key Personnel changes
Requests to replace Authorising Officers and/or Key Contacts and to add new Level 1 users will be actioned immediately if the following criteria is met:
If you would like to explore any of this further, including if you need any advice on your reporting duties, please do get in touch with us.
17 May 2023
by Helen Farr
17 May 2023
by Ruth Moffett
28 April 2023
3 April 2023