What amendments have been made to right to work procedures as a result of Coronavirus ?

MortonFraser_Stuart McWilliams
Stuart McWilliams
06 April 2020

The Coronavirus has led to a large number of people working from home, and we're all familiar with many of the practical hurdles this creates. One of the often overlooked hurdles is how to perform a right to work check when people aren't in the same location.

This is a challenge facing many employers at the moment, as they have people due to start work or existing employees who are renewing their visas. Despite the current situation, employers still need to make sure they carry out a right to work check.

Failure to carry out a check, can expose the employer to the risk of employing someone who does not have permission to work in the UK. This can lead to:

  • The business being fined up to £15,000 for a first offence;
  • The business premises being closed for 48 hours to allow the Home Office to investigate other staff's right to work;
  • Loss of a Sponsor Licence; and
  • Criminal penalties for directors if they had cause to suspect the person did not have the right to work.

The normal process of carrying out a check involves checking the physical document, but how can this be done if the person is working remotely?

Fortunately, the Home Office have issued amended guidance on the checking procedure and this allows employers to:

  • Accept a scanned copy of the relevant document;
  • Verify the person's identify by video call; and
  • Record that a temporary check was carried out by video call and when this took place.

There are also procedure to verify right to work using an online system but this will only be available for non EU national employees with biometric residence cards.

Any employer who wishes to use this new procedure needs to be aware that the checks are temporary, and a proper check must be carried out within 8 weeks of the Coronavirus restrictions being lifted.

As with any right to work check, there will be cases where someone cannot provide the correct document and the employer will need to take additional steps to verify the person's right to work. In all cases it is important to make sure the proper procedure is followed.

If you need any assistance with carrying out right to work checks, or advice about the procedure to follow, please get in touch.


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