Our 6 April blog on UK immigration updates resulting from the coronavirus pandemic (https://www.gherson.com/blog/covid-19-uk-immigration-update-64) outlined important updates to the current guidance for Tier 2, 4, 5 sponsors, and guidance for holders of Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas. The update stated that if employers cannot pay the salaries of employees because they have temporarily reduced or ceased trading, they can furlough the employees in accordance with Government guidelines.
Updated guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) from HMRC states that “Foreign nationals are eligible to be furloughed. Grants under the scheme are not counted as ‘access to public funds’ and you can furlough employees on all categories of visa”.
If you are currently sponsoring a migrant to work in the UK and changes are being made to their salary, working hours or you are considering putting staff on furlough, you must ensure that you are still meeting the relevant Home Office requirements for their specific type of visa. You should also still inform the Home Office of any changes in the migrant’s circumstances in this regard and keep relevant records on the individual’s file for future reference.
Individuals who are put on furlough must be enrolled for PAYE and have a UK bank account. Once an individual is on furlough they will not be able to work for the employer. As regards Tier 2 workers, they are eligible to take on additional employment for 20 hours per week, providing the role is either within the same role as their sponsored employment or it fits within the Shortage Occupation List.
It is important to note that any reductions in working conditions must be part of a company–wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated equally. These reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to at least the previous level once these arrangements have ended.
Please note that the information in this blog is current at the date and time of posting. The situation regarding policy and guidance based on the COVID-19 pandemic is subject to change at short notice. We shall be monitoring all aspects of UK immigration which may be impacted by the coronavirus closely, so please do keep updated with further blogs and articles which we will be posting on this site.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.