All employers in the UK are required to carry out right to work checks to ensure workers have adequate right to work, prevent illegal working, and ensure that they can establish a statutory excuse against liability for a penalty.
Failure to carry out the checks by Home Office policy could lead to a civil penalty of £20,000 per illegal worker, potentially a criminal conviction for more serious cases as well as an array of other penalties, including no longer being able to sponsor migrants, disqualification as a director or seizure of earnings.
Before COVID-19, the majority of right to work checks were carried out in person. With the sudden introduction of homeworking, the Home Office made the exception to allow checks to be carried out online, but they made it clear that this would be a temporary measure.
However, as COVID-19 has proven to be one of the most unpredictable situations in recent times, the Home Office has been adapting to the uncertainty by extending the deadline. Most recently, they extended the end to their temporary right to work adjustments until 5 April 2022. But what does this mean for employers?
Employers will be allowed to carry out right to work checks remotely via video calls until the deadline. The potential employee can then send accepted document copies by email or an app or use an online right to work checking service if eligible and provide the employer with a share code. One point to note is that any checks made using the COVID-19 right to work rules between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 will not need to be carried out again.
The news is a welcome development for employers, many of whom are navigating the complexities of their workforce returning to the office and comes as the Home Office have announced that they are conducting a review of technology to develop a new digital solution for the right to work checks.
Further development in right to work checks relates to EU nationals. For existing employees who came to the UK before 1 July 2021 from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, it is not necessary to carry out further right to work checks.
However, employers can no longer accept an EU passport or ID card as sufficient evidence of the right to work in the UK for new European employees. Please note that it is not necessary to carry out retrospective checks on existing EU national employees.
Should you wish to understand the right to work rules or find out more about which documents a potential employee should provide to prove their right to work, please contact our reception on 01234 350244 to speak to a member of the Business Immigration team.