Conducting Right to work
checks during pandemic

To enable employers to continue to on-board new employees during the current coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, the government has temporarily adjusted the UK’s rules on right to work checks. 

Whilst checks continue to be necessary and employers must check acceptable documents listed in right to work check guidance, the government announcement confirms that, as of 30 March 2020, the following temporary arrangements are in place:

  • It is permitted to conduct checks over video calls; and
  • Both new hire employees and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals.

When conducting a right to work check during the temporary COVID-19 measures, a record of the date the check was made should be taken and marked:

“adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”. 

Where job applicants or existing workers are unable to show their documents, the employer must contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service.

Retrospective checks after COVID-19

During the adjusted period, any right to work check undertaken in the ‘prescribed’ manner (i.e. where the employer has obtained original versions of acceptable documents; checked the documents in the presence of the holder; and retained the necessary copies), a retrospective check will not be required. 

However, when the current restrictions end, the Home Office will ask employers to carry out retrospective checks on those existing employees who:

  • started working during the COVID-19 measures;
  • had their right to work check conducted in line with the temporary measures; and therefore
  • require a follow-up ‘prescribed’ right to work check to be undertaken.

To avoid the Home Office considering enforcement action against an employer, each revised check will need to be carried out within eight weeks of the COVID-19 measures ending.

Each follow-up check should be marked with:

“the individual’s contract commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to work check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”

Whilst this interim measure will allow employers to continue to engage workers during the current crisis, it is important that businesses take note of the retrospective actions they must undertake once they are able to function normally again.

Smith Stone Walters recognises the importance of employers remaining compliant with all aspects of immigration legislation. Contact us today to hear how we can support your business in complying with illegal working legislation.

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