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If employees are working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, can we carry out right to work checks remotely?

Yes. The Home Office introduced temporary Covid-19 concessions to facilitate social distancing which means that you can use electronic copy documents to carry out the right to work check and can check the likeness against the job applicant via video call rather than in person.

Where the job applicant cannot provide these documents, employers can use the Employer Checking Service and if they have the right to work, then the employer will receive a Positive Verification Notice which will provide the employer with a statutory excuse for 6 months.

The Home Office has provided useful guidance on how to carry out a compliant Right to Work check using the temporary adjustments in place for Covid-19. In summary:

  • You will need to ask the job applicant to send you digital copies of their original documents, for example by scan, photo or mobile app.
  • Hold a video call with the job applicant and ask them to show their original documents on camera so you can check them against the digital copies you have already received.
  • On the date you made the check, record that you have done this by using the following wording “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to Covid-19”. Evidence of right to work checks still need to be held securely either in paper or electronic format.
  • You can use the online RTW checking service where the job applicant has Biometric Residence Permit or pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You should do this whilst on the video call with the applicant.

It was initially anticipated that temporary adjusted checks would end on 20 June 2021. However, updated guidance was issued on 18 June 2021, then on 26 August 2021 and, more recently on 22 February 2022, which confirms that the end date for the temporary adjusted checks has now been deferred again from 5 April 2022 to, and including, 30 September 2022.

Read more about this and other questions in our

Right to work checks and civil penalties section.

Disclaimer

Given the fast pace of change, we would stress that this information is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

As a hub, we have included references to articles and explainers from third parties. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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