Guidance was issued to employers on 20 April 2021 regarding the need to resume face to face right to work checks from 17th May. The Home Office, after lobbying from business and employers organisations, has now announced it is pushing back the reintroduction of physical right-to-work checks until 21June.

This means the temporary COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks introduced at the start of the pandemic will now end on 20 June 2021 and from 21 June 2021 employers should revert to completing physical document checks face to face.

The new date aligns with the easing of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures, as set out in the government’s roadmap for England and those of the devolved administrations.

On 30 March 2020 the following temporary changes were introduced to the required process for checking right to work documents and these will remain in place until 20 June 2021.

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– checks can currently be carried out over video calls

– job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals

– employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents

Up to and including 20 June 2021, if you are carrying out a temporary adjusted check, you must:

– ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app

– arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19

– if the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system you can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details.

From 21 June 2021 employers must revert to the previous process as set down in legislation of checking the applicants original documents or complete an online check using a share code provided by the applicant.

Employers should be aware that due to the impact of Covid-19 some people may have difficulty showing evidence of their right to work in the UK. Extra care should be taken to ensure no job applicant or employee is discriminated against because they have difficulty in showing their documents. Employers should seek further advice, if needed, on avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working.

The Home Office has also announced that there will not be a requirement to complete retrospective checks of documents of those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30th March 2020 and 20th June 2021. The decision has been made to support business during this difficult time and reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place. This no doubt will be a relief to many employers and means statutory excuse will be maintained if any check during this period was completed in the prescribed manner or that set out in the adjusted guidelines.

Employers should consult an employment law advisor for further advice.