COVID-19 Concession on UK Right-to-Work Checks Now Ends 20 June 2021

April 22, 2021 (Updated May 12, 2021)

Update: The UK Home Office has announced that the temporary COVID-19 adjusted right-to-work checks will now end on 20 June 2021, as opposed to 17 May 2021. From 21 June 2021, employers will be required to revert to face-to-face and physical document checks as set out in the legislation and guidance and further detailed below. This is a welcome change for many businesses whose offices remain closed, and is aligned 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.

The UK Home Office announced that on 17 May 2021 the COVID-19 right-to-work concession allowing employers to conduct right-to-work checks by video call will end.

Right-to-Work Checks From 30 March 2020 Through 16 May 2021

In March 2020 the UK Home Office published temporary measures allowing employers to conduct right-to-work checks by video call from 30 March 2020. Until 16 May 2021, employers may continue to use this adjusted process, which involves an employee submitting a scanned copy or photo of their original documents to their employer via email or mobile app. The employer then conducts a video call with the employee, during which the employee holds up the original documents to the camera and the employer checks them against the digital copy of the documents. The employer must record the date of the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19.” Employers may continue to use this process through 16 May 2021.

Right-to-Work Checks From 17 May 2021

From 17 May 2021, employers will once again be required to conduct standard right-to-work checks on or before their employees’ first working day and for any subsequent checks. This means that from 17 May 2021, employers should either check the employee’s original document(s) in person or check the employee’s right to work online (for employees holding Biometric Residence Permits or holding status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based system).

If it is not possible for an employer to check the employee’s original document(s) in person, the employee can post their original document(s) to the employer and the employer should check the physical original document whilst conducting a live video call with the employee. It is not sufficient to check the document via a live video link or via a digital copy of the document.

Retrospective Checks

The updated Home Office guidance confirms that an employer will not be required to carry out a retrospective check where a COVID-19 adjusted right-to-work check was carried out between 30 March 2020 and 16 May 2021 (inclusive).

Further information regarding right-to-work checks can be found in the Home Office guidance.

This change will have a significant administrative impact on businesses whose offices remain closed beyond 17 May 2021. We are awaiting further guidance from the Home Office to understand how this impact can be effectively managed.

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

Yvette Allen

Washington, DC
Shannon A. Donnelly