Written by Graham Simons, published 31 March 2020
Yesterday, the government revealed that under temporary changes in light of the Covid-19, effective immediately, it will not require employers to see original documents and will allow checks to be undertaken over video calls.
This comes after the Recruitment & Employment Confederation called on government to introduce a more pragmatic approach to Right to Work checks.
The changes mean that during the Covid 19 outbreak prospective workers are now able to submit scanned documents, rather than originals, to show they have a right to work. However, the government added that checks continue to be necessary and it is an offence to knowingly employ or let property to anyone who does not have legal immigration status in the UK.
Recruiter Magazine spoke to Migrate UK’s MD Jonathan Beech, who noted that the Home Office has provided short-term respite to those in the UK with imminent visa expiries and to employers checking the legality of an overseas worker’s right to work.
“The solutions are sticking plasters but can be seen to be effective in the circumstances. Those with UK visa expiries up to 31 May 2020 and who have no means of leaving the UK can contact the Home Office to make their presence in the UK known to avoid the significant repercussions of being an overstayer. No new official status will be provided eg. a new Biometric Residence Permit as this is a concession and not an application procedure written into law.
“For recruiters and employers, they are bound by specific Right to Work checks, which normally involves meeting the prospective employee in person and seeing the original document allowing work. This clearly cannot happen at present, so digital checks have been given the green light for the short term. With any digital check, the employers or recruiters must make it clear on the document that the original has not been seen due to Covid-19 measures being in place. In addition, employers and recruiters must retrospectively carry out proper checks within eight weeks of the Covid-19 measures ending.
“This will mean having individuals, employers and recruiters checking Home Office guidance regularly, but pragmatism is clearly evident, if not fully comprehensive in its approach.”
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