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Overseas Recruitment in Dentistry - Legal Q & A's In the Dental Business - Part Three

Legal Q & A's In the Dental Business - Part Three


In the third of her series of articles for GDPUK, Hewi Ma of Brabners Solicitors discusses employing overseas workers.

I’m struggling to recruit a dental associate along with the rest of the UK.  I know overseas workers may be an option but I don’t know where to start!  Can you help?

I really empathise with you – we all know recruitment and retention in dentistry as a whole has been challenging these recent years.

We are seeing more movement in overseas workers braving the obstacles to working in the UK but navigating the UK’s complex immigration laws can be challenging for the uninitiated.

I will just mention that overseas dentists will need to complete the ORE Part 1 and Part 2, within 5 years, in order to be registered with the GDC.  Those who experienced difficulties in completing Part 2 as a result of the pandemic are being given an extension. However, they must be pro-active in arranging their Part 2 exam.

I won’t go into the details of how an overseas dentist can register with the GDC as the information is readily available on the GDC website and will instead, cover the sponsorship requirements.

Dentists are classed as “Skilled Workers” (as are most of the team within a dental practice eg nurse, hygienist, receptionist etc) and as such, are eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker visa which will allow them to come to the UK to work in practice with an approved employer. 

With dentists and specifically dental practice owners being so highly regulated (GDC, CQC) it is unlikely that the Home Office would refuse to grant you a Skilled Worker sponsor licence.  However, you will still need to apply via the Home Office and prove that you are a genuine organisation operating legally in the UK and will offer genuine employment that meets the required skill level and appropriate rates of pay.

As part of the application, you will need to gather comprehensive documentation in respect of the skilled worker. All documents relating to a worker must be kept throughout the period that you sponsor them  and normally until one year has passed from the date on which you end your sponsorship of the worker. You must also keep the documents you provided as part of your application to become a licensed sponsor. You must keep this information for as long as you hold a sponsor licence.

You will need to organise your practice so you know who will manage the sponsorship within your business and named as “Key Personnel” on your licence.  They are:

  • - Authorising officer – The person you nominate to this role must be the most senior person in your organisation responsible for the recruitment of all migrant workers and ensuring that you meet all of your sponsor duties. They are responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the sponsorship management system (SMS). This role includes compliance obligations and training to understand this role is advisable;
  • - Key contact – the main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration
  • - Level 1 user – the person responsible for day-to-day management of your licence using the sponsorship management system (SMS) which is effectively your online portal for managing your licence

There is no reason why these roles cannot be filled by the same person and there are lots of parallels with a practice’s CQC registration, eg Individual Provider, Partnership Provider members, Nominated Individuals and Registered Managers. 

The UKVI can assess compliance at any time including before granting the sponsor licence to determine suitability.

Where an application is refused, there is no right to appeal and a colling off period may apply meaning that you will not be able to apply again for a period of between 6 months and 5 years, depending on the reason for the refusal. 

Where a licence has been granted and a practice subsequently found to be non-compliant, the UKVI can suspend your licence, impose an action plan to remedy your failings or in the worse-case scenario, revoke your licence.  Again, see the parallels with the CQC who can impose similar actions.

Non-compliance must not be taken lightly, particularly when considering the penalties for employing migrants illegally. 

If you knew or had “reasonable cause to believe” a worker did not to have the right to work in the UK, you could be jailed for 5 years and be subject to an unlimited fine.

The civil penalty for employing someone with no right to work and where you failed to carry out the relevant checks can be as high as £20,000.00 for each illegal worker.  

An application for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence is clearly no walk in the park.  However, given the current recruitment market, it may well be the solution that practices are looking for. 

If you require more information on this topic or require assistance with a sponsor licence application or query, contact the specialist Dental Team and Business Immigration Team at Brabners who will be delighted to help.

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