The Home Office confirmed on 20 April 2021 that the COVID-19 adjusted right to work check process will only remain in place until 16 May 2021. Although employers will need to undertake fully compliant right to work checks from 17 May 2021, they will not have to carry out retrospective checks where the adjusted process has been used.
No retrospective checks required
The confirmation that retrospective checks will not be required will come as a relief to employers and recognises the huge administrative task that would have been involved in doing this.
Employer reaction to the announcement
The ending of adjusted right to work process coincides with the planned implementation of step three of the Government’s roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England. However, many employees will continue to work either fully or predominantly from home beyond this date.
Many employers have expressed concern that the return to full compliance is premature and unworkable. We, along with other immigration practitioners, will be raising our clients’ concerns with the Home Office with a view to reaching a safer and less disruptive solution.
Tips for minimising adjusted checks and returning to fully compliant right to work checks when required
Whilst the appropriate arrangements will vary from business to business, we would suggest the following general approach for employers to ensure compliance whilst minimising the need for face-to-face right to work checks:
- Determine an internal policy for conducting right to work checks on the assumption this will be required from 17 May 2021 and ensure all relevant recruitment, HR and any other staff responsible for carrying out right to work checks are made aware of this in good time
- Use online right to work checks wherever possible (noting that the individual must be present at the time of the check, at least via live video link)
- Put adequate resources in place to securely receive, review and return physical documents required for manual right to work checks, and consider conducting manual checks with the individual being present via live video link rather than face-to-face.
The general reaction to this policy change has been immediate and negative. There is a good chance the Home Office will be lobbied to defer the resumption of fully compliant right to work checks. Lewis Silkin LLP and other law firms are currently working with ILPA (Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association) to seek to raise the issues with the Home Office to air the health and logistical challenges around this policy position.