Right to work check requirements stiffened in the UK

Out-Law News | 22 Sep 2022 | 3:17 pm | 1 min. read

Employers in the UK are faced with having to choose between engaging a commercial provider or returning to in-person right to work checks to comply with new guidance that takes effect on 1 October 2022.

Immigration law expert Shara Pledger of Pinsent Masons said the Home Office’s updated guidance will force some employers to change the way they have conducted right to work checks since the Covid-19 pandemic began and could create logistical challenges for HR teams.

Pledger said: “Since March 2020 employers have not needed to meet people face to face to check their right to work. They've been able to complete those checks over a video call, regardless of which checking scheme has applied.”

There are three distinct routes for completing right to work checks in the UK.

In the case of non-British or non-Irish workers, employers are obliged to carry out remote checks via the Home Office online checking service: this system has been mandatory for employers since April 2022.

For British or Irish workers that have their current passport or Irish ID card, employers have been able to use the Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service since 6 April 2022. That service is delivered remotely through government-certified third-party identity service providers. The service is not mandatory for employers to use.

In cases where British or Irish workers do not have a current passport or Irish ID card, or where they do but employers elect not to use the IDVT service for checks, the employer can conduct manual document checks themselves.

“What has changed with this updated Home Office guidance is that it removes the ability for manual checks to be conducted over video call, meaning that employers need to return to face to face meetings from 1 October – or engage an identity service provider to run the checks for them through the IDVT service,” said Pledger.

“There are relatively few identity service providers that the government has approved, with many only approved in the past few weeks, so some employers feel scope for relying on video calls for manual checks should have been retained – at least until such time as they had had a fair opportunity to get a relationship in place with a provider,” she said.

“The change poses potential logistical problems for some employers. Post-pandemic, companies don't hire in the same way, so employers may need to reintroduce facilities for a person to attend and have their documents checked in person. This could be a particular issue for employers whose HR function works from home,” she said.

The Home Office has confirmed that there is no requirement to carry out retrospective checks on candidates who were subject to Covid-19 adjusted video checks between 30 March 2020 and 30 September 2022.