Temporary Right to Work Checks Extended to 20 June 2021

It is unlawful to employ someone who does not have the right to reside and the right to work in the UK or is working in breach of their conditions of stay. Employers have a duty to prevent illegal working and must carry out certain right to work checks on all prospective employees before their employment starts (and should undertake follow up checks for current employees with time-limited permission to live and work in the UK).

It is important employers do not make any assumptions as to a prospective employee’s right to work in the UK or their immigration status. All potential employees should be required to demonstrate their right to work, otherwise the employer will be at risk of civil penalties and criminal prosecution in the event that the right to work does not apply. Further, if an employer is selective as to which prospective employees it subjects to checks, it may be open to claims for race discrimination.

On 30 March 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government made the following temporary changes to the right to work checks to simplify the process for employers:

  • checks can be carried out via video call (rather than in person)
  • job applicants and existing workers can submit scanned copies or photographs of identity documents for checks (instead of providing original documents)

These changes were originally put in place until 16 May 2021, but the Home Office has announced that they will now remain in force until 20 June 2021. From 21 June 2021, employers will be required to once again check job applicants’ original documents or use the Home Office’s online right to work check tool. From that date, any document checks will have to be performed in the physical presence of the potential employee, or by a live video link as long as the employer is in possession of the original documents.

Click here for the full government guidance or if you would like to discuss this further, contact a member of Lanyon Bowdler’s employment team.