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Changes to right to work checks – What you need to know

22 February 2023

As of 1 October 2022, guidance on the completion of right to work checks for UK employers has changed.

This change sees the removal of the temporary adjusted process from the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning employers must return to completing manual in-house checks or make use of an online IDSP (Identity Service Provider).

As the implications of this change could be confusing, our partners AHR Consultants have summarised the details below while answering some key questions for employers.

What has changed?

Many employers will have made use of the adjusted process for right to work checks during the Covid-19 pandemic, through which video calls could be used to complete manual checks.

This presented a convenient solution for businesses at the time, as the adjustment removed the requirement to see original documents in person, which was of course prevented by lockdown restrictions.

As Covid-19 restrictions are largely a thing of the past in the UK, guidance on right to work checks has been updated to reflect this. Therefore, employers can no longer use video calls to complete checks as of 1 October 2022.

How can right to work checks be completed following this change?

The removal of the temporary adjusted process leaves two options for employers when completing right to work checks.

These are:

  1. Returning to the completion of manual in-person checks with original documents
  2. Using an IDSP to complete checks online

With many organisations utilising remote and hybrid working, it is likely that using an IDSP will be a natural progression from completing right to work checks via video call, offering similar benefits in the way of efficiency and accessibility.

Rather than handling documents physically, IDSP’s facilitate the online completion of right to work checks, using biometric technology via mobile devices and webcams to validate identity.

Why are right to work checks important?

It is a legal requirement for all UK employers to ensure that their existing and potential employees have the right to work in their organisation.

Completing checks helps to deliver peace of mind for employers, providing a ‘statutory excuse’ against liability for potential civil penalties.

These penalties can reach a maximum of £20,000 per case, however, businesses are only likely to face a penalty if their employee does not have the right to work, and the employer cannot provide a valid statutory excuse.

Does using an IDSP eradicate the need for in-person checks?

Although IDSP’s offer an efficient alternative to traditional checks, employers must note that they cannot force an employee (new or existing) to share their details via this method.

If a situation arises where an employee refuses to share their details, the employer must arrange to complete the check in-person with the employee’s original documents, in line with the traditional approach.

This is important, as it means that the employer will still be able to provide a statutory excuse against any liability for illegal working.

How often should right to work checks be completed?

Organisations must carry out initial right to work checks on all potential employees before they begin employment.

There is also an additional requirement for follow-up checks, should the individual’s permission to live and work in the UK be limited by time.

Source: AHR Consultants

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