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UPDATE: Right to work checks advice for employers

Due to the government delaying its final step in its roadmap on Monday (14th June), the temporary COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks will now end on 31 August 2021 (previously 20th June 2021). It enables employers to carry out right to work checks over video calls (rather than in person), and allows job applicants to send scanned copies of identity documents (rather than provide originals). 

During the pandemic, employers have faced challenges in carrying out right to work checks, which usually require in-person sight of the individual’s original passport or biometric residence permit. As it stands, checks can currently be carried out over video calls and job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents required. These measures have allowed employers flexibility when checking and recording the individual’s right to work in the UK whilst also providing a ‘statutory excuse’ against any potential illegal working claims. Other measures included:  

  • record on file that checks have carried out ‘adjusted checks on [date] due to COVID-19’ 
  • if the worker has a biometric residence permit/card or status under the EU settlement scheme, checks can be conducted using the Home Office’s online right to work checking service while doing a video call – permission must be sought from the applicant.  

No retrospective checks required 

Employers do not need to carry out retrospective checks on employees appointed using the temporary checks between 30th March 2020 and 30th August 2021 (inclusive) and will come as a relief to employers, and recognises the huge administrative task that would have been involved in doing this. From 1st September 2021, employers will revert back to face-to-face and physical documentation checks as set out in previous legislation and guidance. This announcement will ensure employers have sufficient notice to put measures in place to enable face-to-face document checks once again.

We would recommend that the verification of identity and requirements to apply for a DBS check are conducted at the same time as the right to work check, to remove any unnecessary requirements for applicants to present documentary evidence. 

Employers should continue to refer to Home Office guidance to ensure they remain compliant with immigration rules on checking right to work during this time.