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Payment of salary for sponsored workers including Skilled Worker and GBM

First key point to note: Salary for Skilled Workers and other sponsored workers may be paid in the UK or abroad. Where the worker will be paid from abroad in a currency other than pounds sterling, the salary entered on the CoS must be based on the exchange rate for the relevant currency on the day the CoS is assigned, taken from the rates published on OANDA.

All payments to sponsored workers must be made into their own bank account in the UK or overseas. Sponsor employers must NOT pay sponsored workers in cash. If you do pay them in cash, Home Office are likely to revoke your sponsor licence.

Unpaid leave – salary for sponsored workers

Sponsored workers can take short periods of unpaid leave but, unless an exception specified in the Home Office guidance applies (please see further below), sponsor employers must normally stop sponsoring a worker who is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks in total.For Skilled Workers and Global Business Mobility routes, the 4 weeks in total is in any calendar year (1 January to 31 December). In the case of a Scale-up Worker the 4 weeks limit is during the period in which sponsor employer have sponsorship responsibility for the worker. This applies irrespective whether the worker is absent from work for a single period of more than 4 weeks, or if they have a number of absences which cumulatively total more than 4 weeks.

Exceptions: permissible absences in excess of 4 weeks

When calculating whether your sponsored worker has been absent without pay for more than 4 weeks, the following types of absence are disregarded and do NOT count towards the 4 weeks:

• statutory maternity leave;

• statutory paternity leave;

• statutory parental leave;

• statutory shared parental leave;

• statutory adoption leave;

• sick leave;

• assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis, provided sponsor employer agreed to the absence for that purpose.

If you stop sponsoring a worker who has been absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks, you must report this using your sponsorship management system (SMS) account. You must make the report by the end of 10 working days after the date you stop sponsoring the worker.

Excess of 4 weeks unpaid leave – compelling or exceptional circumstances

When you as a sponsor employer believe that there are compelling or exceptional circumstances as to why you should not stop sponsoring a worker who has been absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks (and any of the specified exceptions listed above do not apply), you must report the absence and reasons via the ‘Report migrant activity’ function in the SMS for Home Office to consider. Unfortunately, in such case you will be subject to Home Office assessment and discretion, and you must be aware that Home Office may cancel the worker’s permission if they are not satisfied that in their view there is a valid reason for continuing to sponsor the worker. If this happens, you must stop sponsoring the worker.

Salary reductions for Skilled Worker & other sponsored workers

You must tell us via your SMS account if you reduce a worker’s salary after you have assigned a CoS (including after they have been granted entry clearance or permission).

If you are sponsoring a Skilled Worker or Tier 2 (General) Migrant, you must check if you will need to assign a new CoS (and if the worker will need to apply for new permission) before you can reduce their salary. You must stop sponsoring the worker if their revised salary no longer meets any salary, hourly or going rate requirement for the job or the route on which they are being sponsored, or the change is otherwise not permitted by the Immigration Rules or sponsor guidance. You must tell us you have stopped sponsoring the worker via your SMS account.

Salary reductions: exceptions

You must inform Home Office via your Sponsor Management System (SMS) account that you have reduced the worker’s salary from the one specified in their COS certificate. You do not have to stop sponsoring a worker if you reduce their salary and any of the below listed exceptions apply:

• The reduction is temporary and coincides with a period of absence for a permissible reason given in the ‘Unpaid leave’ section above.

• The reduction coincides with a temporary reduction in the worker’s hours, or a phased return to work, for individual health reasons, provided: o this is supported by an occupational health assessment; and o the reduction does not result in the hourly rate falling below any hourly rate requirement which applied when the person obtained their most recent grant of permission.  

• The worker is on a GBM route and a temporary reduction in salary coincides with working for the sponsor group or linked overseas business while the worker is not physically present in the UK.  

• The person is a Skilled Worker, GBM worker or Scale-up Worker and, after the change in salary, would continue to be eligible for points for salary, as set out in Sponsor a Skilled Worker, Sponsor a Global Business Mobility worker, or Sponsor a Scale-up Worker.  

• The person is a Skilled Worker and the reduction in salary has been authorised as a result of a grant of new entry clearance or permission to stay.

• The worker otherwise continues to meet the salary requirements on the route on which they are being sponsored.

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