23 June 2021
Physical right-to-work checks now to resume on 1 September
The Home Office has announced a further delay in the resumption of physical right-to-work checks.
Plans to resume physical checks on 21 June had been strongly criticised by business organisations in light of the four-week delay in unlocking Covid restrictions and the slow pace of the return to offices, and the Government has responded by saying it will continue with the COVID-19 "adjusted" checks until 1 September 2021.
Updated guidance released by the Home Office last week said digital right to work checks – introduced as a temporary measure at the start of the pandemic to support businesses to work remotely – would be extended until the end of August.
The latest revised guidance states that until 1 September 2021 (final day 31 August) checks can continue to be carried out over video calls; job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals; and employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents.
After 31 August, employers must check the applicant's original documents or check the applicant's right to work online, if the applicant has passed on their share code (gained from passport and biometric residency permit/card details).
Responding to the announcement, Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said: "This is a sensible decision that will keep the jobs market moving. We're pleased government has listened, and we look forward to working with the Home Office on the next logical step – a permanent digital system."
In a statement to City AM, a Home Office spokesperson said this latest postponement was because of the “benefits the adjusted checks have brought employers”, and that the Home Office was “reviewing whether there are changes we can make to the right to work scheme to increase the digital checking aspects, including through the use of specialist technologies”.
This is the second time the reintroduction of in-person checks has been pushed back. In-person checks were initially billed to be brought back in May, however after lobbying from business groups this deadline was pushed back to today (21 June) to bring them in line with when the government had hoped to end the last remaining lockdown restrictions in England.
This extension is an opportunity to fully review recruitment practices, from checking the questions asked as part of an initial application at the screening stage to the wording in offer letters and employment contracts.
Speak to your Regional HR Adviser for further advice and support.
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