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UK right to work check concessions to end on 16 May 2021

Temporary adjustments to the process for checking individual rights to work in the UK will end on 16 May 2021.

From 17 May 2021, employers must once again check individuals’ original documents, rather than scanned copies or photographs of the originals, or use the Home Office’s online right to work check tool. Checks must be performed in the physical presence of the individual, or via a live video link, while the original documents are in the possession of the employer.

No retrospective checks required

Employers will not be required to undertake full right to work checks retrospectively where a Covid-19 adjusted check was carried out while the concessions were in force, between 30 March 2020 and 16 May 2021.

Our recommendations

Whilst the appropriate arrangements will vary from one business to the next, we would suggest the following general approach for employers to ensure compliance whilst also minimising the need for face-to-face right to work checks:

  • Continue to adopt online right to work checks wherever possible (noting that the individual must be present at the time of the check, at least via live video link).
  • Ensure a process to securely receive, review and return physical documents required for manual right to work checks, and consider conducting manual checks with the individual being present via live video link rather than face-to-face.

Avoiding discrimination and penalties

Due to the impact of COVID-19 some individuals may struggle to show evidence of their right to work in the UK. As a result, you must take extra care to ensure no-one is discriminated against as a job applicant or employee because they are unable to show their documents.

In addition to a potential discrimination claim, you could also face a civil penalty of up to £20,000 if you have taken on just one employee and cannot prove that you have carried out the correct right to work check. You must not discriminate against anyone because of where they’re from. Right to work checks continue in the same way as now until 30 June 2021 for citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Changes in July 2021

From 1 July 2021 onwards, right to work checks will change and all EEA nationals will be required to demonstrate their right to work through evidence of their immigration status, rather than their nationality, using the Home Office’s online service (subject to a small number of exceptions).

The Home Office guidance can be found here.

If in response to the adjusted checks ending, or you have any areas of concern, please contact a member of the Spectra team. We can help with devising or reviewing your right to work check process.

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