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New Absence Reporting Laws for Skilled Workers Announced

3 min read
New Absence Reporting Laws for Skilled Workers Announced

It’s standard practice for an employer to create policies for absences from the workplace. This makes expectations clear for employees if they have time off work.

Absence policies generally cover the following:

Absences planned in advance:

Unplanned absences:

  • Sickness
  • Time off for dependents
  • Time off for bereavement
  • Extreme weather or travel disruptions

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Absence policies are not governed by law, but there are laws that you need to be aware of that are related to absence from work. For example, several laws are relevant to sick leave and returning to work. These include the Equality Act, the Employment Rights Act, and the Health and Safety at Work Act.

It is also essential to be aware of absence reporting laws regarding employees who are employed and sponsored through the Skilled Worker visa. A Skilled Worker visa allows individuals to work in the UK if they are doing an eligible job through an approved employer.

There are requirements that both the employee and the employer must fulfil to qualify for this visa, one of which is related to absences. Skilled Worker employees must discuss all absences with their employer, who must maintain records and report any significant changes to the Home Office.

In this article, we’ll review the processes for reporting absences of Skilled Worker employees. 

Unauthorised or Unpaid Leave

It is the responsibility of any employer to report any unauthorised absence of ten days or more to the Home Office. An unauthorised absence is a failure to attend when expected without communication regarding the absence to the relevant party at their place of work.

Sponsored visa holders are only eligible for a maximum of four weeks of unpaid leave annually (depending on the employer’s absence policies), which must be reported to the Home Office.

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Normal Work-Related Travel

‘Normal work-related travel’ is any travel to and from work and to and from meetings, conferences, or work-related appointments in the UK. This does not need to be recorded or reported.

The exception is if the Skilled Worker will be unreachable by phone or email at any time. In these circumstances, they must inform the HR department before departure.

Normal Absence Reporting

A ‘normal absence’ constitutes sickness, annual leave, maternity, or paternity leave, shared parental leave, or adoption leave.

Skilled Workers are entitled to the same amount of sickness, annual leave, maternity, or paternity leave, shared parental leave, or adoption leave as any other employee, and these absences must be recorded. Recording all employees’ leave is standard practice, but sponsored visa holders must have these records available for auditing purposes.

The HR department must, however, report any changes to a Skilled Worker’s salary due to absence to the Home Office within five days. For example, if the employee were to receive Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Sick Pay, or take a period of unpaid leave.

There is also some flexibility regarding maternity, paternity, shared parental, and adoption leave when it comes to Skilled Worker’s unpaid leave allowance. However, it must still be reported to the Home Office.

Sabbatical Leave

Sabbatical leave is not permitted for employees on a Skilled Worker visa. The employee would be considered failing to fulfil the role described on their visa, which would require reporting to the Home Office, and the visa would be cancelled.

Time Spent Outside the UK

There are no restrictions for Skilled Workers on spending time outside the UK, but it is essential to keep a record of all travel if the employee is considering applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

In this case, detailed travel records must be kept for the five-year qualifying period. There is also a continuous residence requirement for applicants, who must show they have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months during the qualifying period.

More information on reporting absences for Skilled Workers can be found on the Home Office website.

Automate Your Absence Management

Complying with absence laws is easiest when you have a digital software to automate time off management.

With Factorial’s all-in-one software, employees can request time off with just a few clicks. Managers can accept or reject within seconds after consulting the automatically-updated team calendar, which will flag clashes and blocked periods instantly. Each employee’s time off is recorded automatically and is accessible from one centralised location, increasing visibility so that reporting to the Home Office is quick and easy.

The tool also adapts to fit your needs; you can tailor time off policies to each team and individual, and customise the settings for each type of leave. Book a demo to find out more!

Jessie is an experienced content creator and copywriter specialising in technology and telecommunications. She comes to the HR technology space keen to exercise a passion for people and the human resources industry.

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