e - Record-Keeping and Appendix D
In recent months we have written a number of blogs on different aspects of UK sponsor licence compliance, including the immigration skills charge and reporting changes in organisational structure and transfers of ownership (including mergers, takeovers, and TUPE). In this article, we will explain the record-keeping duties of sponsor licence holders in the UK, including the requirements in Appendix D of the Home Office’s guidance for sponsors.
What Are The Record-Keeping Duties Of UK Sponsor Licence Holders?
As laid out in the ‘Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors’, specifically, Part 3: Sponsor duties and compliance, businesses holding sponsor licences must adhere to a number of record-keeping requirements. It is important to note that these are in addition to the reporting requirements defined by the Home Office. The record-keeping duties require sponsoring businesses to retain and store certain correspondence, letters, and other documents as proof of compliance. The specific documents which must be retained are listed in Appendix D of the guidance. It is essential that all sponsoring businesses become acquainted and follow the record-keeping rules as any failure to do so, even a minor omission, may lead to a sponsor licence being downgraded or even revoked. As there is a 12 month cool-off period before reapplying, in the event that a licence is revoked, this can have a substantial and damaging impact on both the employees and employer. The record-keeping duties are as follows:
- The sponsor must retain and safely store the documents contained in Appendix D (see below for more details)
- The documents must be stored for a set duration
- The documents can be stored in hard copy or electronic form
- Where documents are stored electronically, all of the required parts must be available and visible (as outlined in Appendix D)
- The sponsor is required to provide any documents to UKVI relating to a sponsored worker or the running of their business when requested – this is required to assess ongoing compliance with the duties and responsibilities of a licence holder
- Comply with the requirements of other government departments for documents stored (where these differ from the immigration rules).
- When storing documents, sponsors must adhere to the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation.
This highlights just how important it is to ensure that sponsoring businesses have the necessary processes and systems in place from day one of their sponsorship. If you are unsure how to put in place the necessary record-keeping systems and checks, it is advisable to engage a third-party specialist in this area, such as an Immigration Solicitor, who can help put these in place in a manner that is compliant in readiness for a pre-compliance or compliance visit from UKVI.
Which Records Are Sponsor Licence Holders Required To Keep?
Appendix D of the guidance for sponsors lays out in detail which documents must be stored, the format required, and for how long.
UKVI is quite flexible when it comes to the format of documents; the guidance states, “Documents can be kept either as paper copies or in an electronic format. There is no prescribed method for storing the documents, but you must be able to make them available to us on request”. As such, there is no requirement for businesses reliant on paper systems to implement electronic systems, however, doing so can make the ongoing process of compliance easier. This is because electronic records can be made easily accessible to administration staff within your business regardless of their location. It is also possible to send these to UKVI quickly without needing to locate a physical file and make a copy.
Documents must be stored by the sponsor for the whole period of employment of the sponsored worker and until (whichever is the earlier of):
- one year after the end of the sponsorship; or
- the date on which a compliance officer has examined and approved them if this is less than one year after you ended your sponsorship of the worker
The list of documents that must be stored for each sponsored worker includes (this list is not exhaustive):
- A copy of each sponsored worker’s current passport, including the worker’s personal identity details and any relevant visas showing that the person has permission to work for you as a licensed sponsor.
- Evidence of the worker’s date of entry to the UK – if you sponsored the worker for their most recent entry clearance, this document must show they arrived in the UK between the valid from and valid to date on their visa. This will typically be in the form of an entry stamp in the employee’s passport.
- A copy of the worker’s biometric residence permit (BRP).
- A copy of the worker’s National Insurance (NI) number – this may be in the form of a copy of a payslip, the individual’s NI card, or a notice from the HMRC.
- A history of the sponsored individual’s contact details (UK residential address, personal email address, telephone number (mobile and/or landline). UKVI will want to see evidence that this is always up to date.
- Parental or guardian consent for workers under 18
- A copy of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check where necessary
- A record of the sponsored worker’s absences
- Evidence of a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) – only where the worker was hired before the end of 2020 as this is no longer a requirement.
- Details of any recruitment activity (even if an RLMT was not needed) - the documents required are details in Appendix D
- The salaries of sponsored workers including copies of payslips, details of the frequency of payments and method of transfer.
- Employment contracts for sponsored workers
- A detailed and specific job description outlining the duties and responsibilities of the role must include the skills, qualifications and experience required
- Copies of the sponsor worker’s qualifications, certifications, and professional registrations
Requesting, checking, copying, retaining, and updating the above documents is a sizeable task for any organisation. For this reason, the more efficient and automated you can make the process, including putting in place systems that remind staff and notify them of missing items and expiry dates that are due, the more easily you will be able to remain in compliance at all times.