The Home Office has just announced a further extension to carrying out Right To Work checks during coronavirus (COVID-19).
This extension has been put in place following feedback received by the Home Office about the ability to conduct checks remotely. The Home Office will continue to review the process and is considering options for a long-term, post-pandemic solution. This includes the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital right to work checks in the future and introducing a new digital solution to include those unable to use the Home Office online checking service (including UK and Irish citizens) which will enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.
The following temporary changes will remain in place until 5 April 2022 (inclusive):
- checks can continue to be carried out over video calls;
- job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals;
- employers should use the Home Office Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents.
Checks remain mandatory and employers must check the prescribed documents set out in the official employer’s Right To Work guidance or use the Home Office Right To Work online service. It remains an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK.
The temporary adjusted check employers carry out must:
- ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app;
- arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents, record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
- if the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system, employers can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call.
New guidance will be issued ahead of 6 April 2022.
Online right to work service
Using the Home Office right to work online service gives employers a defence against a civil penalty. As long as the Right To Work information is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems, employers are not required to see or check the individual’s documents. It is important to note that employers cannot insist individuals use this service or discriminate against those who choose to use their documents to prove their right to work.
If the individual has a right to work in the UK, the Home Office Employer Checking Service will send employers a ‘Positive Verification Notice’. This provides you with a statutory excuse for 6 months from the date in the notice.
Employers are not required to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 (inclusive).
However, it remains an offence to work illegally in the UK. Any individual identified who is disqualified from working by reason of their immigration status, may be liable to enforcement action.
Please contact us if you would like any further advice, guidance or a consultation.