COVID-19: Updated Right to Work and Right to Rent Checks

March 31, 2020

The UK Home Office on 30 March temporarily relaxed the right to work check requirements for employers due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Right to Work Checks

All employers must complete a right to work check on or prior to any employee’s start date and again prior to expiry if the employee has time-limited permission to work in the United Kingdom. Valid right to work checks establish a statutory defence if the Home Office identifies that the employer hired illegal workers.

From 30 March 2020, employers may carry out the right to work check by video call. The new process involves an individual submitting a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email to the employer or using a mobile application. The employer would then conduct a video call with the individual during which they would hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents. Employers should record the date of the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.

If the individual has a current Biometric Residence Permit or status under the EU Settlement Scheme, the employer can use the online right to work checking system and subsequently validate their identity on a video call. This service works based on the individual providing the employer with a share code, which, when entered along with the individual’s date of birth, enables the employer to access information on their right to work.

If the individual cannot show their documents, employers should use the Home Office Checking Service. Employers should wait to receive a positive verification notice before the applicant commences work.

Once the COVID-19 measures end, the previous requirements will resume with prior notice from the Home Office. The employer will then have eight weeks during which they must revalidate all right to work checks conducted under the relaxed requirements. Employers should see the original documents, check the validity in the presence of the employee, and take a copy which should be marked: “the individual’s contract commenced on [insert date]. The prescribed right to work check was undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.”

If, at the point of carrying out the retrospective check, an employer finds that the employee does not have the right to work in the United Kingdom, they must end their employment.

Right to Rent Checks

Individuals arriving in the United Kingdom are ordinarily required to provide documents to landlords to evidence their immigration status before they can rent a property. From 30 March 2020, prospective tenants may also provide their documents to landlords digitally, with the check taking place by video call. Retrospective checks will take place in the eight weeks following the COVID-19 measures ending.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force

For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. We also have launched a resource page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts.


If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Shannon Donnelly

Jennifer Connolly
Yvette Allen