The Home Office has recently announced planned changes to the way Right to Work checks are carried out, to be effective from 6th April. So far they have published only draft guidance on this, but it is not expected that any significant alterations will be made to this and so we anticipate that this draft guidance can in practical respects be treated as the final version.
As a reminder, all employers in the UK should carry out Right to Work checks on their employees, to ensure that they do not employ anyone in the UK who is not legally entitled to work here. Failure to carry out a Right to Work check is not in itself an offence (although can be treated as a compliance breach for Sponsor Licence holders) but it means that if you, even without knowing, employ someone who does not have the right to work in the UK, then you will not have an automatic defence to potential fines or even criminal proceedings for illegal employment. Remember also that Right to Work checks include ensuring that any limitations on a migrant’s working restrictions are complied with - for example, Student visa holders not working more hours per week than permitted.
These current changes are being brought into effect as a result of the Home Office’s continuing efforts to move more visa activities online. The key aspects are:
- It will no longer be permitted to do manual checks on BRP cards—instead employers will have to use the online checking service.
- For British/Irish passport holders, it will be possible to use an Identity Service Provider to carry out identity verification - this will in practical terms be very similar to the online checking service that is available for BRP card holders. However, manual checks of British/Irish passports can continue to be made instead, if preferred.
- If there are reasons you are unable to do an online check on a BRP card holder (for example the BRP card has not yet been received due to a Home Office delay, or if there is a technical problem with the online checking service) then the alternative Employer Checking Service can be used. This is similar in that it is also an online service, but is only to be used where the ordinary online service is unavailable.
In all cases, it will still be necessary to check that the image (including the image displayed online for the online checks) matches the individual you are employing and you will also have to keep a record of having completed the check. For the online checks, this will mean keeping a PDF of the check report you receive.
In addition to the above, until 30th September 2022, it will be possible to use the “covid adjusted measures” for checks. This means that checks can be carried out over video calls instead of in person, and that scanned copies of documents can be sent to the employer for checking instead of needing to see the originals. When keeping a copy of the scanned documents, you will need to mark the copy with the relevant date: “Adjusted Right to Work check undertaken on [date] due to covid-19.” Note however that this procedure needs to be understood in light of the above changes - i.e. for BRP card holders you will need to use the above electronic method of checking rather than these “covid adjusted measures”.
3CS can assist with all immigration compliance related matters; for further assistance please contact our team.