On 26 August 2021, the Home Office confirmed that the end date for the temporary adjustments allowing digital right to work checks has been extended until 5 April 2022.
The deadline for the end of digital Right to Work checks was originally scheduled for 1 September 2021. This would have required employers to check individuals’ original documents and carry out face-to-face checks. However, this has now been amended.
Right to Work checks can currently be carried out over video calls and workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals.
The decision to extend the deadline is seen as a positive move as it will ensure the Right to Work Scheme continues to operate in a manner that supports employers and will allow the Home Office to explore and implement a long-term, post-pandemic solution.
Faced with issues such as remote working, self-isolation and employee concerns about COVID-19, the extension of digital Right to Work checks until April 2022 will come as a huge relief to many employers.
It must be noted that checks continue to be necessary and you must continue to check the prescribed documents set out in right to work checks: an employer’s guide or use the Home Office right to work online service. Checks must be carried out correctly. It remains an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK.
How to carry out Right to Work checks?
Until 5 April 2022, employers 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 you can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details
After 5 April 2022, employers do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check.
Employers will maintain a statutory excuse against a civil penalty if the check undertaken during this period was done in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 guidance on adjusted checks.
What to do if the job applicant or existing worker cannot show their documents?
If for some reason a worker cannot show their documents, employers must contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service. If the person has a right to work, the Employer Checking Service will send a ‘Positive Verification Notice’. This provides employers with a statutory excuse for 6 months from the date in the notice.
Could digital Right to Work checks be the future?
The Home Office confirmed that they have initiated a review of the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital Right to Work checks in the future. This would mean that checks could be conducted remotely but with enhanced security. Hence, there is a possibility that a permanent move to digital Right to Work checks will be made in the future. What such a process will fully look like, remains to be seen.
Until then employers must carry out the prescribed Right to Work checks. 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.
Digital rights to work checks advice from UK Immigration experts
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