Care homes warned to tighten overseas recruitment procedures

Solicitor RWK Goodman has warned social care businesses to tighten their overseas recruitment procedures after 94 private providers recently lost their Skilled Worker Sponsor Licences.

A freedom of information request by the law firm to the Home Office has revealed that during the period between 1 January 2021 and 26 October 2023, 94 private care providers in the health and social care sector have had their Skilled Worker Sponsor Licences revoked.

This comes after Care Home Professional broke the news earlier in the year that some care businesses were reporting that the UK Home Office appeared to be “cracking down” on overseas recruitment, something which has now become common knowledge.

James Sage, a partner in the health and social care team at RWK Goodman, said: “While some of these providers may well have breached the rules around sponsor licences unintentionally, the consequences will be far-reaching. Not only will these providers have been forced to dismiss all the overseas workers they were sponsoring, their businesses will have faced fines and considerable reputational damage.”

RWK Goodman laid out some common pitfalls providers often fall into, leading to their being deemed non-compliant:

  1. Failure to report changes to sponsored workers (within 10 working days) – examples include where the employee does not start the role within 28 days, and failure to report when a pre-registered nurse completes their Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration or if they fail to complete it within eight months;
  2. Failure to report changes to your organisation (within 20 working days), such as a change in status of any registration or accreditation providers are legally required to hold, for example with the CQC;
  3. Failure to keep compliant records, for example a copy of the right-to-work check or DBS check; salary and skill-level documents such as copies of any required qualifications, for example for senior care workers and proof of registration (such as with the NMC);
  4. Failure to conduct right-to-work checks properly and omitting to diarise follow-up checks when visas expire;
  5. Failure to understand minimum salary requirements in the context of overall salary and hourly rates, and that shift premiums are prohibited;
  6. Failure to comply with immigration law and extensive compliance duties generally. This includes recruiting the right candidates and assigning the correct occupation code to the role, specifically failing to issue a new certificate of sponsorship (COS) when a care worker is promoted to senior care worker, and applying for change of employment; only allowing the worker to undertake the role permitted by their visa and failure to disclose if you assign a COS to a family member of anyone within the organisation.

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