Temporary adjusted right to work checks, first introduced in March 2020 will end on 30 September 2022. Recent research from identity service provider, Xydus found that 48% of businesses surveyed were unprepared for the changes. 

We set out the key information employers need to know regarding the changes and the potential risks of inaction.

What adjustments to right to work checks have been in place?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic adjusted checks have been in place since 30 March 2020. The adjusted process has allowed right to work checks to be carried out via video call, without the requirement for employers to be in receipt of hard-copy original documents.

Workers could show you their original documents through a live video link for you to check against the copy documents they had send through to you. It has also been possible to use the Home Office right to work checking service during video calls (for eligible workers) provided you have the worker's consent to do so.

What changes take place from 1 October 2022?

From 1 October 2022, adjusted checks will no longer apply. This means that you will have to:

  • be in physical possession of the worker's original documents (copies will no longer be sufficient) and carry out the check whilst they are present. The worker can be present in person or alternatively via video link (but you must have the documents in your possession at the time), or;
  • complete a Home Office online right to work check (e.g. for those with eVisas or where online checks are now compulsory (since 6 April 2022) such as for those with biometric residence permits, biometric residence cards, or frontier worker permits.)
  • instruct a Digital Identity Service Provider to carry out an Identity Document Validation Technology identity check, then verify these details match those of the worker. This type of check is currently only available for those with valid British or Irish passports (or an Irish passport card).

You are responsible for ensuring the correct right to work checks are completed. Failure to do so, for example continuing to carry out adjusted checks past 30 September 2022, could mean that you do not have a statutory excuse against the civil penalty for employing an illegal worker. 

Civil penalties can be up to £20,000 and you may also appear in the publication of non-compliant employers, if you are to be found employing an individual illegally.

What actions should we take to prepare?

Key things to think about, in preparation for the changes include:

  • ensuring staff responsible for right to work checks are aware of the changes and receive the appropriate training
  • checking your right to work check process/policies are updated
  • allowing enough time in any on-boarding process for documents to be sent securely to or presented in person, to the person carrying out the check. This is a key consideration if you have several places of work, remote workers or home workers who do not typically attend an office. 
  • considering your ongoing data protection obligations in relation to the handling of original documents, including ensuring you have processes in place to allow you to safely receive, check and return documents where necessary.

More information

For more information on the upcoming changes, or right to work checks more generally, please contact Elaine McIlroy and Erin McLafferty.