Have temporary Covid-19 right to work check concessions been extended?
27 May 2021
This article covers the delay of in-person Right to Work checks returning under COVID-19 concessions.
On 12 May 2021, the Home Office published updated guidance on Right to Work checks. The guidance confirms that the temporary COVID-19 Right to Work check concessions have been extended and will now end on 20 June 2021, after it was initially proposed that the concession would end on 17 May 2021.
The extension of the Right to Work check concession, aligns with the easing of UK lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures. This news is sure to be well received by HR professionals and employers for whom employees are continuing to work from home, as this means that employers may continue to carry out Right to Work checks in the following ways until 20 June 2021:
- video call – employers can do this by reviewing electronic identification documents whilst on video call with the individual. During the call the employee will be required to show a copy of the original document and the employer must check the individual’s appearance on screen matches the document received; or
- employer checking service – employers can use the online checking service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents.
From 21 June 2021, employers will be required to either:
- check original hardcopy documents when verifying an employee’s right to work in the UK; or
- use the Online Right to Work checking service by way of a share code from the employee.
The Home Office has also confirmed that employers will not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted Right to Work check between 30 March and 20 June 2021 (inclusive).
Further, employers will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check they had undertaken during this period was done in accordance with the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance. Therefore, it is vital that employers review the checks that have been done to ensure they are in line with Home Office guidance.
What is a temporary concession re: right to work checks?
The Home Office have recognised that whilst official Government guidance has been in place to ‘work from home where possible’ due to the pandemic, undertaking a fully compliant right to work check has therefore been impossible for employers to complete. To protect employers and ensure that they can maintain a statutory excuse for the prevention of illegal working, the Home Office therefore introduced a temporary concession to enable employers to undertake right to work checks remotely. The covid concession has enabled employers to check an employee’s right to work by reviewing a scan copy of the passport/visa and undertaking the ID verification via video call. Previously candidates had to be met in person along with their original hardcopy documents. This temporary concession is due to come to an end shortly, in-line with Government guidance that no longer enforces a work from home mandate.
How long will the extension of the covid concessions re: right to work checks remain in place?
The concession for Right to Work checks under Covid guidance to facilitate checks to be undertaken remotely are in force until 31 August 2021. From 1 September employers are required to return to face-to-face and physical documentation checks.
This article is from the May 2021 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact Sacha Wooldridge or another member of Birketts’ Immigration Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at May 2021.