Navigating Compliance Challenges: Lessons from the Prestwick Care Ltd Case
This article examines issues and challenges for care homes seeking employment visas. In a recent landmark decision, the High Court ruled against Prestwick Care Ltd, a major care home operator in the North East, upholding the Home Office verdict. First of all, the case is known as Prestwick Care Ltd & Ors v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3193 (Admin). Second, this ruling reinforces the serious consequences of non-compliance with sponsor licence duties. Third, the outcome happened even in the face of reduced Home Office visits during the difficulties of the pandemic.
Prestwick Care Ltd, employing 219 Skilled Workers under the Health and Care visa scheme, faced sponsor licence revocation after a compliance visit in October 2022. The Home Office emphasized that sponsoring foreign workers is a privilege, with sponsors obliged to report events, maintain records, and uphold UK law.
Violating vacancy requirement rules
Following the inspection, The Home Office found Senior Care Assistants not aligning with their job descriptions. In fact, they were found to be violating the genuine vacancy requirement, outlined in the sponsor duties. Subsequently, this became grounds for mandatory licence revocation. This serves as a crucial reminder to review job descriptions to ensure accuracy.
Identified pay differences from CoS-stated salaries resulted in one nurse being paid less during training. This violation is a mandatory ground for licence revocation, emphasizing the need for sponsors to ensure accurate salary payments in line with CoS.
Non-compliance with UK Employment Law
Failure to provide sick pay to three employees led to non-compliance with UK employment law, a serious matter resulting in licence revocation. Sponsors therefore, must stay updated on employment law to avoid such consequences.
Recouping Immigration Skills Charge Costs
Recouping immigration skills charge costs from sponsored workers, as seen in Prestwick Care Ltd’s case, may not be a mandatory ground for revocation. Nevertheless, it often leads to it. Employers must refrain from passing on such costs to the workers so as to maintain their licence.
Ineffective oversight of sponsored workers, including visa expiry date monitoring, is a breach of duty. Sponsors failing to record expiry dates for eight employees highlighted the need for rigorous monitoring processes.
Poor Record Keeping
Incorrect addresses for as many as seven sponsored workers showcased poor record-keeping practices. While not a mandatory ground for revocation, sponsors should prioritize accurate record-keeping to avoid raising red flags with Government.
Summary and assistance for Care Homes
Despite the care home operator’s plea regarding the impact on local services, the court emphasized the Home Office’s primary concern. This was, of course, ensuring sponsor duty compliance. The breaches, though seemingly minor individually, collectively demonstrated a lack of rigor and trust in the sponsorship system.
If concerned about compliance, sponsors should consider a mock audit from an independent legal advisor. This proactive step can identify and rectify potential issues, ensuring continued adherence to sponsor duties. In the ever-evolving landscape of immigration compliance, staying vigilant is key to navigating the intricate waters successfully. So, for care homes seeking employment visas, Taylor Hampton navigates the process enabling care homes to get their house in order.
For more information contact Leena Chouhan on 0207 427 5972 or email [email protected]
Care Homes need good governance to navigate the tricky process of managing successful immigration for employees