Is work at another employer or study permitted for Skilled worker
Skilled worker and other sponsored work visa holders who wish to take another job whilst employed at their sponsor, must first understand the UK immigration rules. Lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of the Home Office rules may cause you to lose your sponsored visa.
The importance of checking the immigration rules and understanding what is permitted on your visa and what is not cannot be stressed enough.
If you are unsure, we address some key points in our article further below.
Sponsored workers must work for employer and job in COS
Generally, workers granted permission on the Worker or Temporary Worker routes must work for the sponsor, and in the employment, specified on their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Minor changes to the details of that employment are permitted, provided:
• notify Home Office of the change via the sponsorship management system (SMS);
• the worker continues to meet any salary or other requirements of the route on which they are being sponsored; and
• the change would not require a ‘Change of employment’ application.
In addition, depending on the route on which they have been granted, sponsored workers may be allowed to:
• take additional employment (Scale-up Workers only)
• work out a contractual notice period
• take supplementary employment
• take secondary employment with a second CoS
• take limited temporary employment as a sportsperson or as a sports broadcaster
• do voluntary work.
Additional employment for Scale-up Workers
A person granted permission as a sponsored Scale-up Worker can take employment (including self-employment and voluntary work) additional to the work for which they are being sponsored. The only restriction on this additional employment is that they must not work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
Working out a contractual notice period – Skilled Worker and sponsored work visas
A worker who is sponsored on a Worker route, or a Global Business Mobility route other than Service Supplier, and is making a ‘change of employment’ application, is permitted to work out a contractual notice period for their existing employer, provided they were lawfully working for that employer on the date of application.
What is Supplementary employment
Some sponsored workers can take additional paid employment, known as ‘supplementary employment’, provided they are continuing to work in the employment for which their CoS was assigned and the additional employment meets the conditions set out below.
Not all sponsored workers are permitted to take supplementary employment.
Who can take supplementary employment?
A worker can take supplementary employment if they have been granted entry clearance or permission on any of the following routes:
• Skilled Worker
• the Intra-Company routes in place before 11 April 2022
• Senior or Specialist Worker (but only if they qualify under a transitional arrangement)
• T2 Minister of Religion
• International Sportsperson
• Creative Worker
• Government Authorised Exchange
• International Agreement (but only if the worker has been granted as an employee of an overseas government or international organisation)
• Religious Worker.
What are the rules of supplementary employment?
Supplementary employment must meet all of the following requirements:
• it must be in the same profession and at the same professional level as the work for which the worker’s CoS was assigned or be a job which is in an occupation listed in Appendix Shortage Occupation List – if the occupation is later removed from the list of shortage occupations, the worker must finish that employment
• subject to paragraph S8.12A, it must be for no more than 20 hours a week; and
• it must take place outside of the normal working hours for which the worker’s CoS was assigned.
If a Skilled Worker is sponsored in an occupation code eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa, the 20-hour limit does not apply to extra work in a job which would be eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa. This exception only applies to extra work done before 27 August 2023.
Where supplementary employment is permitted, it does not have to be with a licensed sponsor.
What are the consequences if supplementary employment rules are breached
If the worker undertakes additional employment that does not meet the supplementary employment criteria, and they have not been granted permission to allow them to take such employment, the worker will be in breach of their conditions of stay.
A sponsored worker should advise their new employer that the employment is supplementary to the work they are being sponsored to do, so their supplementary employer can make the necessary checks outlined in our guidance for employers on illegal working.
Who cannot take supplementary employment?
Workers granted on the following routes are not permitted to take supplementary employment – if they do so, they will be in breach of their conditions of stay:
• the Global Business Mobility routes (unless a transitional arrangement applies)
• Charity Worker – however, Charity Workers can do additional voluntary work for another organisation, provided it’s in the same role as the one specified on their CoS
• Seasonal Worker
• International Agreement, unless they have been granted as an employee of an overseas government or international organisation – however, a private servant in a diplomatic household can take additional employment as a domestic worker in a different household, provided their main employment continues to be as a private servant in the household specified on their CoS.
Transitional arrangement for Senior or Specialist Workers
A worker granted permission as a Senior or Specialist Worker can take supplementary employment only if all of the following are true:
• the application which led to their current grant was for permission to stay (not entry clearance)
• the worker was previously granted permission under the Intra-Company routes in place before 11 April 2022
• the worker has, since then, continuously had permission as a Senior or Specialist Worker (including any period of overstaying disregarded under paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules).
What is secondary employment (employment with a second CoS)
A worker sponsored on any of the Worker routes (other than Senior or Specialist Worker) may be allowed to take a second job which does not meet the supplementary employment criteria described above. Home Office calls this secondary employment. It is distinct from the supplementary employment and requires a second CoS to be assigned to the worker.
The worker must have used their first CoS in a successful application for entry clearance or permission on a Worker route, and have started the employment for which that CoS was assigned, before they can be assigned a second CoS.
Any secondary employment must be with a licensed sponsor and the worker must meet the criteria relevant to the route in which their secondary employment falls.
The secondary employer must assign a new CoS to the worker, so that the worker can make an application for permission to stay that will allow them to undertake the secondary employment, in addition to their main employment.
Employment as a sportsperson or sports broadcaster
Workers granted permission on the International Sportsperson route can undertake:
• employment as a sportsperson for their national team while their national team is in the UK
• playing in British University and College Sport (BUCS) competitions; and
• temporary engagements as a sports broadcaster – this means providing guest expert commentary on a particular sporting event.
They do not need to be assigned an additional CoS to do this.
Can skilled worker and sponsored visa holders do voluntary work
People sponsored on the Worker routes are permitted to do voluntary work in addition to the work for which their CoS was assigned. This could include volunteering, without any contractual obligation, for a charitable organisation. People doing voluntary work must receive no payment or other remuneration for this activity, other than reasonable expenses as outlined in section 44 of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998.
Temporary Workers are not permitted to do voluntary work, unless they are:
• a Scale-up Worker, in which case they can do voluntary work outside of their sponsored employment
• a Charity Worker, where they can do additional voluntary work for another organisation, provided it’s in the same role as the one for which they are being sponsored and meets the definition of ‘eligible charity work’ on that route
• a Government Authorised Exchange worker, if volunteering is recorded on their CoS (in which case they can do that voluntary work only).
Can you Study in the UK as skilled worker or other sponsored visa holder
Workers and Temporary Workers may undertake courses of study if they wish, provided their study does not affect their ability to carry out the job they have been sponsored to do, and, if relevant, they meet the ATAS condition.
Study may be undertaken anywhere the individual chooses and does not have to be with a licensed Student sponsor. There is no limit on the number of hours they can study or the level of course they undertake.