Guide to having staff onsite sponsored by your supplier

If your suppliers have their consultants or other staff working at your offices, unless the staff have Permanent Residence, or a visa based on a relative/ancestor’s UK residence / nationality,  they are likely to come under the Tier 2 rules.

Tier 2 allows companies to bring in high level expat professionals to do jobs where the skills can’t be found locally (or not enough can be found to meet the needs of all the companies needing the skills).   The rules around Tier 2 are deliberately designed to be a bit of a hassle for companies to follow. This is so that you choose a local person if there is anyone suitable, and only resort to engaging an expat as a last resort.

If you are a client company, and you have expat Tier 2 staff sponsored by your suppliers onsite, the first thing to remember is that you can’t just wash your hands of the issue.  You may have a recruiter, or an RPO company, in place, and want them to handle all your contract procurement so that all you do is receive a service. But when Tier 2 expats are involved, you are involved, and there is a paraox: 

IF your suppliers try to hide everything from you and tell you that you don’t need to bother, then you could be at risk.

BUT where your supplier tells you up front, and you devote a small amount of time to doing things properly, you should be fine

You should expect:

  • To have to sign off on a defined statement / schedule listing what the expat(s) will deliver to you
  • To meet the expat(s) and their manager on a regular basis (it need not be a long meeting)
  • To be reminded that you can’t treat Tier 2 expats onsite as quasi staff or agency workers

If a supplier simply sends you an expat on a  Tier 2 visa to be an agency worker at your site, then there are big risks to you, to the individual, and to their Sponsor.  It comes down to the fact that, not only would the sponsoring employer be breaking the rules, but they would be inviting you to do the same.  If you act as the de-facto employer of the sponsored worker (by having them just do whatever work you choose each day, rather than providing fixed deliverables: by running them through your staff disciplinary / leave management processes, etc) then, you could be employing them illegally.  And the individual could be working in breach of their conditions, meaning they could be removed from the UK.

It is not difficult to get it right, but can be disastrous to get wrong, so you may as well put in the effort up front (its not that much effort), and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have thought about the details and have good answers.

To discuss a sponsored role where the employee will be on a client site, please complete the form below