On 30th March 2020, the Government introduced temporary changes to the way that right to work checks should be carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic. This month, the Government announced that the revised process will remain effective until 20th June 2021.
What is a right to work check?
Employers in the UK have a responsibility to prevent illegal working. In order to do this, employers must conduct simple right to work checks before employing an individual to make sure that they are not disqualified from carrying out the work in question by reason of their immigration status.
This involves checking relevant identification documents in order to verify an individual’s identity and their right to work in the UK.
Why is it important to carry out right to work checks?
Where an employer has conducted right to work checks in accordance with the Government’s guide and the Code of Practice, they will have a “statutory excuse” against liability for a civil penalty in the event that they are found to have employed someone who does not have the right to work in the UK.
This means that if the Home Office finds that an employer has employed someone who does not have the right to do the work in question, but they have correctly conducted right to work checks as required, they will not receive a civil penalty for that illegal worker.
An employer can receive a custodial sentence of up to 5 years and be required to pay an unlimited fine if they are found guilty of employing someone who they knew or had “reasonable cause to believe” did not have the right to work in the UK.
What are the new rules?
The revised rules enable employers to carry out right to work checks via video calls rather than in person. The rules also permit job applicants to provide scanned copies of identity documents rather than being required to provide originals.
The updated guidance also states that employers will not need to carry out retrospective checks after 20th June 2021. This means that employers will not be required to request copies of original documents from individuals it has engaged during the previous 15 months once the adjusted right to work checks come to an end.
Subject to any further extension, Right to Work Checks will revert back to the original process on 20th June 2021, in line with step four of the Government’s road map out of lockdown.