The UK Home Office partially reversed guidance on the reintroduction of face-to-face right to work checks today (12 May 2021).

At the outset of the COVID pandemic, the Home Office made temporary changes to the right to work rules that allowed employers to conduct checks through video calls as opposed to in-person checks.

Its 20 April 2021 announcement that the concession was to end on 16 May 2021 caused great dismay and confusion amongst businesses.

This was on the basis that face-to-face right to work checks would have been required at a time when official government guidance remained that people should work from home where they can, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home.

The updated guidance backtracks on the end date, bringing it into line with the broader guidance on when businesses might start returning to office-based working.

The adjusted right to work checks will now end on 20 June 2021, meaning that from that date, employers will be required to conduct in-person checks and have in-person, physical documents checks.

For a more detailed explanation of the temporary Covid-19 adjusted check measures, please read our earlier blog post on the matter.

From 20 June 2021, employers must again comply with the right to work check regulations that were in force prior to 30 March 2020. This means either checking the applicant’s original documents or checking the applicant’s right to work online if they have provided a share code.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, it may be more difficult for certain individuals to show evidence of their right to work in the UK. Consequently, employers should be aware of the risks of discriminating against applicants or employees who are unable to provide their documents.

No retrospective checks

The updated guidance confirms that employers are not required to carry out retrospective checks for those who had an adjusted RTW check between 30 March 2020 and 20 June 2020.

This change to the date is very welcome as the extension of the period for adjusted right to work checks is now in line with the broader roadmap back to ‘normality’ for business.

It is not yet clear whether a complete easing of restrictions by 21 June is possible, but we can certainly hope to see some more ‘normality’ by then, even if that brings with it the requirement for face-to-face right to work checks.

If you have any queries in relation to right to work checks, please get in touch with Jamie Kerr or Nikki Weir.