The UK Home Office has now issued a number of temporary changes to the process used by employers to undertake ‘right to work’ checks on new employees.

The changes aim to simplify right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic and make it easier for employers to carry out the compulsory checks.

In some quite significant changes, as of 30 March 2020, it is now possible to conduct checks over video calls as opposed to the employer needing to see and copy the original document in the presence of the applicant.

In a similar vein, it is now also possible for employers to accept scanned documents or a photo of documents using email or a mobile app, rather than sending original documents.

The new guidance details the process that employers ought to adopt during this relaxation of the rules.

Should the employee submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app, then the employer should arrange a video call with the worker. During the call, the employee should be asked to hold up the original documents to the camera. The employer should then check this against the digital copy of the documents.

The file copy of the check should record the date the check was made and be marked as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.

If the employee has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme, then employers can use the online right to work checking service while doing the video call and the employee must give permission to view their details.

The relaxation in the rules are intended to be temporary in nature and will come to and end at some point after the coronavirus situation has passed.

Employers will later be asked to carry out further retrospective checks on employees who commenced employment during these measures or had follow up checks conducted under the relaxed rules. These retrospective checks will need to be carried out in line with the normal right to work rules – namely with the employer seeing the original document.

The retrospective check must also be carried out within 8 weeks of the coronavirus measures ending and both checks should be kept for your records.

The guidance ends by reminding employers that some individuals may be unable to evidence their right to work because of the ongoing measures to tackle coronavirus. During this period, employers are reminded that they must take extra care to ensure no-one is discriminated against as a job applicant or employee because they are unable to show their documents.

Please get in touch with any queries on the new guidance.