sponsor licence revoked

February 5

Having a Sponsor Licence Revoked: Care Case Study


OTB Legal

Having a Sponsor Licence Revoked: Care Case Study

Two recent High Court cases give us an insight into the approach of the Home Office to sponsor compliance visitors for care providers. They highlight the risks of a sponsor licence being revoked, for care providers who rely heavily on sponsored workers to fulfil their contracts.

Prestwick Care- Sponsor Licence Revoked

Prestwick Care is a group of three companies who operate 15 care homes. They employed 219 sponsored workers.

Following an inspection, they had their sponsor licence revoked. The reasons for revocation were that;

  • Prestwick Care had included an inflated job description on certificate of sponsorship for Senior Care Workers. When interviewed, 5 workers were not performing all of the duties listed. This led the Home Office to conclude that these were not ‘genuine vacancies’.
  • Prestwick Care had deducted sums from the workers’ salaries. This suggested that they were not being paid the amount stated on their certificates of sponsorship. The workers did not understand what these deductions were for.
  • Prestwick Care was said not to be complying with the legal obligation to pay statutory sick pay. They had told three workers that the employer did not pay any sick pay. They were therefore not complying with UK employment law.
  • Prestwick Care sought to recover the immigration skills charge from sponsored workers.
  • Prestwick Care were not 'demonstrating practices and procedures in line with the values of the sponsorship regime as set out in the guiding principles for sponsorship’. Because sponsored workers were not told how much they could be asked to repay to the sponsor, until they arrived in the UK. At which time it was too late to object.

Having the sponsor licence revoked was a decision that the sponsor challenged on a number of grounds, none of which were upheld. It is notable that errors were found in a handful of cases. Around 8 employees out of 219, this was enough to justify revocation of their licence.

The sponsor also relied on evidence relating the impact of their business. They described the availability of social care services as 'devastating' and extremely detrimental to vulnerable clients. This was found not to be a relevant consideration.

Supporting Care Limited- Sponsor Licence Revoked

Supporting Care Limited is a domiciliary care provider. They employed 68 sponsored workers out of a total of 162 staff.

Following inspection, they had their sponsor licence revoked based on allegations of six breaches of the sponsor guidance. However, by the time of the High Court hearing this had been reduced to one breach in relation to on employee. That employee was found not to be performing 2 of the 8 duties listed on her certificate of sponsorship. These were duties that would push the role into a ‘senior care worker’ position.

This revocation was successfully challenged through judicial review. The only reason that the case succeeded was because the Home Office had not given consideration to the impact of the revocation. And how this would effect the 68 sponsored workers and their families, and vulnerable service users.

This does appear to be inconsistent with some of the comments made by the judge in the Prestwick Care case. Therefore it is possible that this could be appealed.

Key take aways for sponsors

These cases highlight the ‘light trigger’ approach that the Home Office take to having a sponsor licence revoked. Although there were a number of compliance breaches at Prestwick Care, that was in the context of a large number of sponsored workers. In the case of Supporting Care Ltd, there was a single breach in relation to a single employee.

Where any business relies heavily on sponsorship to recruit enough staff, it is vital to invest in compliance. If a large percentage of your staff are sponsored workers, then loosing your licence could lead to insolvency.

The focus on treating sponsored workers ‘fairly’ is a new focus for the Home Office. There have been widespread reports of exploitative behaviour in the care sector. This has led the Home Office to focus on breaches of employment law and general ‘fairness’ more. If you do intend to recoup any expenses from sponsored workers, it is important to make sure that they are aware of this in good time. So that they have a realistic option to decide not to accept the offer of employment. Sponsors should also consider whether an outside observer would consider the treatment ‘fair’. Taking into consideration the imbalance of power between sponsored workers and their sponsors.

The judges in the two cases reach different conclusions about the need for the Home Office to consider the broader knock on effects on revocation. However, sponsors should not assume that they will be treated leniently based on the sector that they operate in or because of the impact of revocation.

Support with your sponsor licence

If you have concerns about sponsor compliance and want to avoid having your sponsor licence revoked, our experienced team of immigration lawyers can assist. We offer a free initial consultation and provide flexible services depending on your needs.

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