Last reviewed 31 August 2021
In March 2020, the Home Office issued advice for employers carrying out Right to Work checks during the coronavirus pandemic.
This made it clear that checks could be carried out over video calls and that job applicants and existing workers could send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals.
It also advised employers to use the Home Office Employer Checking Service, at www.gov.uk/employee-immigration-employment-status, if a prospective or existing employee was unable provide any of the accepted documents.
The Home Office stressed that checks continued to be necessary and warned employers that they must continue to check the prescribed documents as it is an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK.
The temporary adjustments introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic were set to end on 16 May 2021 with that date later revised, first to 21 June and then to 31 August.
The Home Office has now announced that the end date for the temporary adjusted checking processes has been changed again with the period extended until 5 April 2022.
“We have made the decision to defer the date following the positive feedback we received about the ability to conduct checks remotely”, it said. “We initiated a review of the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital right to work checks in the future.”
The intention is to ensure that the Right to Work Scheme continues to operate in a manner which supports employers, the Home Office explained, whilst it looks to implement a long-term, post-pandemic solution.
It plans to introduce a new digital solution to include many who are unable to use the Home Office online checking service, including UK and Irish citizens. This will enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.
Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula
The news that Right to Work checks can continue to be carried out remotely, at least until April next year, is going to be welcomed by many employers.
Being able to check documents via electronic means allows employers to draw from a wider talent pool, geographically speaking, and is fitting with the move many are making to hybrid and remote working.
The reassurance that the statutory excuse will apply once the electronic check has been completed will give peace of mind to employers at a time that is, for many, full of big changes, and provide them with the ability to follow the law without any additional barriers.