Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, announced on Friday evening that all cafes, restaurants and pubs must close in a bid to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Eating and drinking establishments, excluding take-away restaurants, have been put on short notice and will not be able to operate from Friday night (20 March 2020). The Prime Minister has also stated that nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, gyms and leisure centres must shut down “as soon as they reasonably can”.
The UK government has pledged an unprecedented intervention to support workers and businesses in the UK that will be impacted by the isolation restrictions. In recognition of the fact that the closure of thousands of businesses nationwide will have a severe impact on employees, business owners and indeed the whole UK economy, the government has promised to step in and pay a sizeable proportion of the wages for those affected.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has announced that the government will pay up to 80% of wages (up to a total of £2,500 per month) for employees who are not able to work due to the mandatory closure of businesses.
Where does this measure leave Tier 2 Sponsors who are obliged to maintain reporting standards and supervise their employees, as well as Tier 1 Entrepreneurs who rely on job creation in the UK as fundamental condition of securing an extension of their visa or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK?
Tier 2 Sponsors
A UK company which has been issued with a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence is under an obligation to monitor any changes in its employees’ working conditions, including their place of work, absences and salary.
In light of the recent pandemic, the Home Office has temporarily relaxed reporting conditions for Tier 2 Sponsors, where employees are absent from work for up to 4 weeks due to coronavirus-related issues. The closure of businesses which hold Sponsor Licences in the hospitality industry will mean that sponsored migrants will not be attending their usual places of work and will not be monitored by employers in line with Sponsor Duties, unless some still remain open for takeaway services.
The Home Office have not yet released updated Covid-19 guidance or advice for employers, or for migrants who are sponsored under the Tier 2 route, and we therefore still await further advice with regards to compliance matters for sponsors.
Tier 1 Entrepreneurs
It is a mandatory requirement for Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrants to create at least 2 full-time jobs for British nationals or settled workers in the UK in order to qualify for an extension of their visa or for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Each job must last for at least 12 months.
In light of the government’s recent statements, and the mandatory closure of specific businesses, the job creation requirement will still need to be met. Effectively, even though the employees will not be attending their place of work and may not be undertaking their specific job roles, they must continue to be employed in the same capacity for the employment to count towards the job creation requirement.
The government’s proposal to assist business-owners with the payment of wages of up to £2,500 per month is aimed at reducing the level of unemployment which is feared could result from the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gherson has extensive experience in Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applications and all aspects of the Tier 2 route. Should you require any assistance or advice in regards to the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Please note that the information on 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.
Immigration Consultant and Trainee Solicitor in our Private Client department