Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding COVID-19. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.
As per the guidance published on 27 March 2020 and updated on 20 April 2020, Tier 2 migrants can be furloughed. This must be reported on the SMS within 10 working days. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not defined as ‘public funds’ in the Immigration Rules. Therefore, migrants who are placed on furlough will not be in breach of their conditions of stay.
You can temporarily reduce the pay of your sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower. However, any reductions have to be as a result of a companywide policy without discrimination, and the reduction in salary must be temporary. The salary must be returned to the previous levels once the arrangements have ended. It is however, not clear whether the minimum salary level must be met, and further guidance needs to be published on this. The reduction in salary must be reported on the SMS with the explanation, and must also be reported once the salary has been returned to previous level. It is very important to note that the migrant cannot work if they are furloughed and must be paid via a PAYE scheme. If the migrant is asked to go on unpaid leave due to COVID-19, the minimum salary level must be maintained, and the measure must also be temporary, and stated above must be report-
ed both before and after.
You do not need to notify the Home Office if the migrant is requested to work from home. You will however, be required to notify of any other changes to their working arrangements on the SMS.
As per the Home Office guidance published on 29 April 2020 and on 1 May 2020, if you sponsor frontline health workers as a:
• Biological scientist
• Dental practitioner
• Health professional
• Medical practitioner
• Medical radiographer
• Occupational therapist
• Social worker
• Speech and language therapist
• Therapy professional
The migrants will be automatically granted a one-year visa extension, where their visas are due to expire before 1 October 2020. The migrants will also not have restrictions on the number of hours they can work. There will be no Home Office fees associated with the application.
As a sponsor, it is your duty to identify the relevant key workers and their family members and inform the Home Office. However, if you have migrant whose leave expires after the 1st October 2020, they will not benefit from the one-year automatic extension. They will need to apply in the normal manner before the expiry of their current leave.
You can allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided if:
• you have assigned them a CoS
• the employee submitted their application before their current visa expired
• the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS
Your reporting responsibilities for an employee start from the date you have assigned them a CoS, not from the date that their application is granted. Any changes that will impact the eventual consideration of the employee’s visa application should be updated on the CoS, as normal. If the employee’s application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must terminate their employment.
As per the guidance published on 31 March 2020, an extension until the end of the year has been granted for the deadline to sit the OSCE. This is only for Registered General Nurses who were due to sit the exam during April to June. This will allow the migrants more time to pass the exam whilst working on the frontline.
Sponsors however, should keep an eye on the extension deadline. Further, guidance will be published soon.
You will have to report migrants on the SMS who are abroad on authorised leave and are unable to come back to the UK as a result of COVID-19. You will have to inform the Home Office that they unable to travel due to restrictions placed as a result of the pandemic. Absent employees As per the Home Office guidance, the Home Office will not take enforcement action against sponsors who sponsor
employees despite absences due to COVID-19.
Sponsors do not need to report employee absences related to COVID-19, which includes:
• Self isolation
• Inability to travel due to travel restrictions
Further, sponsors will not need to withdraw sponsorship if the employee is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks because of COVID-19. This will be kept under review by the Home Office; therefore, it is likely further changes will be made.
The delayed start date should be reported on the SMS in the normal way. If you require our help and further advice, please contact us on 02034754321, or email us at email@example.com.