Government departments have moved many functions online during the pandemic, and Right to Work checks are no exception. However, the special arrangements we’ve all got used to over the last year have now come to an end, and if you’re an employer then it’s essential that you’re up to speed with the latest changes.
What are Right to Work Checks?
All employers in the UK have a legal duty to make sure that their staff are firstly in the country legally and have the right to work here too. There is no set way of doing this, and most employers will come up with a system which works for them. The most common way of doing this is to ask applicants to bring their passports with them to interview, so that the recruiter can both check their identity and verify their right to work. British nationals of course have the automatic right to work in the UK. Other nationalities may too, depending on their immigration status and any visas they have stamped in their passport.
During the pandemic, face to face checking of passports in an interview was unachievable. Over the last year, the Home Office changed the rules to allow employers to look at copies of documents or allow applicants to hold documents up to a camera on a video call.
Illegal Working Enforcement
Although the Home Office was not actively chasing up illegal workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, they have now resumed this activity. However, as of 21st June the ability to check documents online, or by seeing copies.
From 21st June onwards, employers must have the original documents in front of them when conducting a right to work check. This means that the employer must either ask the person concerned to bring the original documents into the office with them, or ask them to send the documents by post, with the identity verification done online, using video platforms just as Zoom.
After the UK exit from the EU, right to work checks have also changed significantly for EU nationals wishing to work in the UK. Until the end of June 2021, EU workers just have to show their passport or national identity card from a EU nation as proof of their right to work in the UK. However, as of 1st July 2021, employers will have to seek proof of the person’s status under the EU Settlement Scheme, and ask to see the correct, work-based visa which confirms their right to live in the UK.
Advice for Employers and Applicants
We’ve all got used to doing things online or virtually over the last 18 months. But the next few months will see a shift back to more traditional patterns of working, which will involve in-person checks on identity. If your employer asks you to send original documents into their office, make sure you use registered post for added security. If you are an EU citizen, make sure you are enrolled into the settlement scheme to secure your right to remain in the UK.