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Covid-19 right to work checks concessions extended until 20 June 2021

Posted: 13/05/2021


At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, taking into account the Government’s message to work from home where possible, the Home Office put in place temporary concessions allowing employers to carry out virtual right to work checks. Last month, the Home Office announced that these concessions would come to an end on 16 May, which meant that from 17 May employers would be required to carry out standard right to work checks again.

After much lobbying from businesses, sector organisations and law firms (including Penningtons Manches Cooper), the Home Office has delayed re-instating manual right to work checks. The temporary Covid-19 adjusted right to work checks will now end on 20 June 2021, and from 21 June 2021 employers will need to revert to standard right to work checks.

Right to work checks until 20 June 2021

Between 30 March 2020 and 20 June 2021 employers can carry out ‘adjusted right to work checks’, which have involved the following steps:

  • ask the applicant 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 applicant and ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents; and
  • record the date the check is made on the copy and mark it as 'adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to Covid-19'.

If the applicant has a current biometric residence permit or biometric residence card, or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or through the new online app, the employer can use the online right to work checking service to obtain proof of right to work for the individual. This can be done during a video call to confirm the individual’s identity, as long as the applicant has given permission to view their details.

Right to work checks from 21 June 2021

From 21 June 2021, standard right to work checks will resume. Employers will therefore be required to either:

  • check an applicant’s original documents in the individual’s presence, confirming their right to work and their validity. Copies should be made of the documents checked, recording the date the check was made; or
  • check the applicant’s right to work online if they have provided the employer with a share code and the individual holds a biometric residence permit or biometric residence card, or has a valid online status.

Employers will not need to carry out retrospective checks on anyone who had a Covid-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 20 June 2021. It however remains the case that right to work checks must be carried out before employment commences.

On the changes, head of immigration Pat Saini commented: “Whilst the UKVI announcement may seem in line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, many businesses continue to work remotely for both logistical and health and safety reasons. In addition new employees who are coming to the UK to start work on or after 21 June, and are required to quarantine, will not be able to attend an office to present their right to work check documents. Whilst the extension to the concession is welcome and demonstrates that the Home Office has listened to businesses, with the Government yet to announce the full lifting of restrictions and as many businesses are reviewing their need for office space and their working models, right to work checks need to be fit for purpose and take into account differing business operating models. We are therefore continuing to liaise with the Home Office on how the checks should operate in the future.”

Practical tips – plan ahead

  • Employers need to make sure that they have systems so that original documents can be checked from 21 June onwards.
  • The Home Office has commenced compliance visits, so employers will therefore need to make sure that evidence of all right to work checks is in order and made available to officers, should it be requested.
  • Employers who have overseas employees coming to the UK, who are due to commence work on or after 21 June, should consider whether right to work checks can be carried out earlier - this will be important where the employee is required to quarantine upon arrival in the UK and will therefore not be able to attend an office to present right to work check documents.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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