At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the Home Office introduced temporary concessions to allow employers to carry out remote right to work checks whilst businesses were being advised to allow their staff to work from home where possible. The adjustments allowed employers to carry out right to work checks over video calls, and permit job applicants and existing workers to send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks rather than sending originals.
The modified scheme ended on 30 September 2022. This means that from 1 October, employers will need to either:
Perform an in-person manual check using original documents
Perform an online check using the Home Office online service
Engage the services of a certified IDSP
Manual right to work checks
A manual right to work check can be conducted by following these three steps:
Ask to see the applicant’s original documents
Check that the documents are valid with the applicant present
Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.
A list of acceptable documents for manual right to work checks can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checks-employers-guide/an-employers-guide-to-right-to-work-checks-6-april-2022-accessible-version#AnnexA
Online right to work checks
To conduct an online right to work check, you will need the applicant’s date of birth and their share code, which they can obtain online. An online check can then be carried out by following these three steps:
Use the Home Office online right to work checking service by visiting https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-work
In the presence of the individual, satisfy yourself that any photograph on the online right to work check is of the individual presenting themselves for work.
Retain and securely store a clear copy of the response provided by the online right to work check.
The Home Office right to work online service is free to use and gives employers a defence against a civil penalty. You don’t need to see or check the individual’s documents, as right to work information is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems.
Identity Service Provider (IDSP)
An identity service provider (IDSP) is a provider of ID verification services. Sometimes referred to as identity providers, they require certification to perform right-to-work (RTW) and right-to-rent (RTR) checks, and also DBS checks.
Consequences of non-compliance
All employers are required by law to carry out right to work checks on their employees, in order to prevent illegal working. It is an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK. Carrying out compliant right to work checks on your employees provides your business with a statutory excuse and protects you against liability for a civil penalty if that person is later found to be working for you illegally.
Employers can face a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegally employed worker who does not have the right to work in the UK, and where correct right to work checks were not undertaken. Businesses could also lose the ability to sponsor foreign nationals on work visas and even face criminal convictions if they do not comply with the new guidelines.