Right to Work Checks

The Government has announced that the temporarily adjusted right to work checks will now remain in place until 20 June 2021.  This allows employers to carry out the necessary checks over a video call.  It is important that employers comply with the adjusted rules in order to avoid paying a civil penalty in the event that an employee is found to be working illegally.

It is unlawful to employ someone who does not have the right to work in the UK or who is working in breach of their conditions of stay.  Employers have an obligation to prevent illegal working and therefore must carry out fully compliant right to work checks on all employees before they start work.

Temporary changes were made to the right to work check requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to make the process easier for employers, and the Government has announced that these will remain in place until 20 June 2021 rather than 16 May 2021.

In order to comply with the law, and be excused from paying a civil penalty in relation to anyone found to be working illegally, an employer usually has to follow three steps:

1. Obtain the employee’s original documents as prescribed in the Home Office Guidance;

2. Check (in the presence of the individual) that the documents relate to that person and are original, unaltered and valid; and

3. Copy the documents and record the date of the check, and the date for any follow up checks, then retain copies of the documents securely.

The temporary changes introduced in March 2020 altered this process so that employers can complete right to work checks via a video call. To do this, an employer must:

1. Ask the individual to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents by email or using a mobile app;

2. Arrange a video call with the individual and ask them to hold up their original documents to the camera so that they can be checked against the digital copy that they have been sent; and

3. Record the date they conducted the check and note “adjusted check undertaken on [date] due to COVID-19” on a copy of the documents.

The Home Office has now said that retrospective checks do not need to be carried out on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 20 June 2021 (inclusive).  Employers will therefore maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check done during this time was done in the correct manner.  The adjusted checks guidance can be found here –

At the moment, from 21 June 2021, the procedure will revert to obtaining original documents as set out above.

If you have any queries in relation to right to work issues or any or HR queries, please do not hesitate to contact the employment team on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.


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