Temporary Adjustments to Right to Work Checks in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Shazia Akhtar, Head of Immigration Services.
The government have published new guidance in respect to the employer process for conducting right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic.
It is imperative that employers comply with new guidance as carrying out Right to Work check continues to be a mandatory requirement.
If an employer fails to carry out a Right to Work check then they run the risk of employing an illegal worker which could potentially lead to civil and, in the most serious cases, criminal sanctions.
As of 30 March 2020, the following temporary measures will now be permitted:
· Checks can now be carried out via video call.
· Job applicants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending the original document.
Employers should take the following steps when carrying out checks via video call:
- Step 1: Request that the worker submits a signed copy or a photo of the original documents via email or using a mobile app
- Step 2: Arrange a video call with the worker, requesting that they hold up the original documents to the camera so that they can be checked against the digital copy of the documents
- Step 3: Record the date that the check was made and mark as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
- Step 4: For individuals who hold a current Biometric Residence Permit/ Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme, the online right to work checking service can be used while the video call is being carried out, but the applicant must confirm that they are happy for the employer to view their details
If a prospective employee is unable to provide their documents, then employers must use the Home Office Employer Checking Service
If the person has a right to work, the Employer Checking Service will send employers a ‘Positive Verification Notice’. This provides them with a statutory excuse for six months from the date in the notice.
Adjustments are ‘temporary’
It is important for employers to note that these adjustments are temporary.
When these changes end, employers will be required to carry out retrospective full checks on existing employees who commenced employment during the pandemic.
This check must be performed within eight weeks of the COVID-19 measures ending, and this, along with the initial adjusted check, should be kept on record.
If the employee does not have permission to be in the UK and this is discovered at the point of the retrospective check, the employer must end their employment.