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Right to work checks extended again

The temporary COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks currently in force are extended until 5 April 2022 (inclusive).

These temporary adjustments will continue to allow employers to carry out adjusted checks over video calls, using a scanned copy or photo of original documents received electronically for an extended period. The Home Office has stated that this will ensure the Right to Work Scheme continues to operate in a manner that supports employers, whilst it looks to implement a long-term, post-pandemic solution.

Retrospective checks

Retrospective right to work checks will not be required for employees who had a COVID-19 valid adjusted video check done up until 5 April 2022. As long as the checks carried out during the adjusted period were done in the prescribed manner, or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance, you will maintain a defence against a civil penalty.

Note that further checks will still be required if an individual has a time-limited right to work.

If an individual cannot show their documents

You must contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service. You will receive a ‘Positive Verification Notice’ if the person has a right to work in the UK. This provides you with a statutory excuse for 6 months from the date of notice.

Avoiding race discrimination

The Home Office recognises that some individuals may struggle to provide evidence of their right to work in the UK. You must be careful to ensure you do not discriminate against someone because they cannot show you their documents. In these circumstances, you should not assume that they are living or working in the UK illegally. You should try to keep the job open for as long as you can, to provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate their right to work. However, you are not obliged to do this if you have an urgent need to recruit.

What are right to work checks?

Employers must check that all job applicants have the right to work in the UK before employing them, to avoid being liable for a civil penalty.

There are two types of right to work check: a manual check and an online check. The type of check you need to conduct will depend on the status of the individual you are employing, and in some circumstances, the individual’s preference.

An online right to work check is required for individuals who only hold digital proof of their immigration status in the UK. This includes most EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens.

To carry out an online right to work check, you will need the applicant’s date of birth and their share code, which they will have obtained online. You can then complete the check online by visiting the Government's Right to Work webpage.

A manual check can be completed for UK and Irish nationals who can use their passport as proof of right to work. Employers will also need to complete a manual check for individuals in the UK who do not hold a digital immigration status.

Guidance for both online and manual right to work checks can be found on the Government website.

You must carry out a right to work check for every individual you employ. Employers can face a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegally employed worker who does not have the right to work in the UK and where correct checks were not undertaken.

For further guidance on adjusted right to work checks or any other employment or HR issues, contact our employment law solicitors.

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