by Gina Tonic
Have to say, it’s not been easy, I have practically been holding my breath for the last two months, with everything crossed, hoping that a plan put together would work.
A couple of months ago I had a meeting with HR one Friday about revamping the domestic policy. It was no longer fit for purpose, the business had moved on and it needed bringing up to date. My diary had some capacity to fit this in, so at the end of the meeting I vowed to get straight onto it the following week.
Unexpected surprise (not in a good way)
Unfortunately, that following Monday morning brought a rather unexpected large surprise. In fact, one so large that it was to become all encompassing for the next month. One of our employees had applied for ILR only for it to be rejected because the company sponsor licence had expired a year ago!! Whilst this wasn’t the main company licence, it was the company sponsor licence of an entity that merged with ours a few years back. In the merge a number of HR people had left, and it transpired that the information regarding this sponsor licence and its upcoming renewal had somehow vanished into a black hole. Two things struck me – who was this guy? (he wasn’t one of our assignees) and how had this issue landed squarely on my desk?!
Where to start?
My head was spinning as to where to start to resolve this. I couldn’t go to the Home Office. It might cause an immediate audit. In addition, whilst I was dealing with this issue, I had no idea whether we may have a wider issue across other entities. I needed time before we had an audit.
In desperation in trying to track down any information I approached the old HR contact in her new role via LinkedIn. Bless her she was kind enough to respond and advised me that she had handed over a blue folder. So off I went hunting high and low in our organisation for a blue folder. Unfortunately, it was nowhere to be found.
Feeling like Scrooge
Upon speaking to our immigration provider, it was crystal clear that we had to terminate this employee as he didn’t have the right to work here. Oh wow, just before Christmas. How much of a Scrooge did I feel delivering that news? Certainly, wasn’t going to put us in the running for ‘Employer of choice’ anytime soon! As much as I wanted to reassure him, I had no concrete information with which to tell him that everything would be ok. All I could do was to outline the process we would undertake.
So, I worked closely with our immigration providers to move this forward as quickly as possible. First on the agenda was the renewal of the sponsor licence. Even that required me to jump over a number of hurdles. Who was going to pay for additional costs for the licence? It was only covering one employee but as it applied to the whole entity should it come from another budget rather than the line manager’s budget?
Looking for needles in a haystack
Then we had to find all the documents to get the licence renewed. I have been all over our offices trying to obtain the necessary information from the various departments. Certainly, increased my step count before Christmas!
Whilst this was going on, we begun the Tier 2 General application process for the employee and his family. Firstly, we had to advertise the role. Even that took time as two candidates applied for the role and we had to interview them both. Thankfully neither were suitable for the role so we were then able to submit the application ‘pending decision on the licence’. Something was on my side as the licence renewal came through that afternoon, so we quickly submitted a variation application.
Getting our house in order
Whilst waiting for all this to go through I have reviewed exactly what sponsor licences we and our divisions hold, who is on which one and the renewal process we have in place for all of them……. Just in case this has raised alarm bells and triggers an imminent audit.
As if this whole process wasn’t costly enough there will be the costs of reemploying him. All costs his business weren’t expecting. I also realised the other day we can’t give him continuous service as the break will have been too long. However, we will reinstate the same holiday entitlement and the same level of benefits.
It has been a massive learning experience and a wake-up call to the business when acquiring other businesses in the future. Whilst I enjoy being part of a rapidly growing organisation please let me get my breath back on this one!
This week, as I cleared my desk from all the licence paperwork and carefully filed it, the domestic policy project notes emerged. I have no idea what my notes meant. I think I’ll need to repeat that meeting and try again!!