Temporary changes to right to work checks during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Home Office has published guidance for employers with temporary changes for carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from 30 March 2020.

The changes are as follows:

  • employees or prospective employees may use scanned copies of documents rather than originals
  • employers can then carry out a right to work check via video conferencing
  • the employer records the date of the check with the following wording: ‘adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19’

Where an employee or prospective employee is unable to provide the required documents, the employer should use the Employer Checking Service. The guidance also confirms that the checks continue to be required just as before (there is no easing on the requirements to make checks), but that due to difficulties in providing documents, employers keep in mind and use the code of practice for employers: avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working.

The guidance notes that when these measures end (no date is currently given), the employer should then carry out a retrospective check on those who required a follow-up check within eight weeks of the measures ending. The check should include the following: ‘the individual’s contract commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to work check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.’

If, during a retrospective check, an employer finds the employee does not have immigration permission to work, they must end their employment. There will be no enforcement action against those who carry out the right to work checks correctly where this is the case.

See the Checking the employee’s right to work guidance note.