New COVID-19 Guidance for Right to Work Compliance

To support employers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the Government has temporarily adjusted Right to Work compliance measures and released new guidance to help make it easier to carry out checks. For further information please read the key takeaways below.

Posted on March 7, 2020
Written by Adam Holden

Right to Work

We are in unprecedented times and employers are facing many uncertainties as the pandemic evolves.

Employers must take action to protect their workforces whether UK-based or working cross-border, which is why we welcomed the recent Government advice on how to safely perform Right to Work verification during the Covid-19 outbreak.

New Right to Work temporary measures

On the 30th March, the Government released legislation temporarily relaxing the requirement for employers to ‘see’ original documents for Right to Work checks whilst the lockdown measures are in place.

You can view the full guidance here:  Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks

To make it easier for you, we have summarised the key takeaways from the recent government guidance:

Key changes

  • Your prospective employees do not need to provide their original documentation for a Right to Work check, a scanned document or photograph of a document is now acceptable
  • You should arrange a video call with your candidate to ‘see’ the candidate with their original document(s).  
  • As an employer, you must keep a record of all Right to Work checks performed remotely
  • Record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”

Timeframes

  • The legislation came into effect on Monday 30th March 2020 and applies to all checks with immediate effect
  • Currently, there is no specified end date for the new Right to Work measures. It will remain in force until the Government issues further notice on COVID-19 special measures 

After COVID-19 special measures  

  • At the end of the special measures period, you will have eight weeks to see the original documents for employees hired during this period and will also need to evidence you have a full record of hires
  • The Home Office will take enforcement action if you don’t comply with the guidance or a check via the Home Office, and follow up with the retrospective check

Recommendations 

api onboarding

It is important to ensure that you do not discriminate against any candidate because they can’t demonstrate their right to work in this way. EU Citizens may be able to demonstrate their right to work using the government online checking service, which would not require you to see a document (although you would still need the video call).  If in any doubt, you can use the Employer Checking Service which will give you a statutory excuse for 6 months.

GDPR still applies, so you need to be sure that you have a secure method for receiving identity documents, which are classed as sensitive personal information. An email should not be regarded as secure. An alternative might be one of the remote onboarding solutions where the applicant uses a mobile phone to capture an image of the document, verify and upload securely, such as NorthRow’s RemoteVerify solution.

Right to Work video calls

At NorthRow, we offer video calls to verify applicants as part of our managed service for identity verification. Below are best practices steps to ensure your Right to Work checks are completed correctly on a video call:

  • Take a screenshot of a close up of the identity document(s), and compare with the scanned image that you received to ensure it’s the same document.  Look particularly at the photograph and the Machine Readable Zone
  • Take a screenshot of the person holding the identity document and compare the face with that in the image.  Don’t forget to check that the person’s apparent age matches the date of birth on their documents. 
  • If you can’t see clearly, ask the person to remove glasses, or to move to better lighting. 

Once completed, the right to work check needs to be identified as an adjusted COVID-19 check and stored securely ready for completion of a full check once the movement restrictions are lifted.  Users of NorthRow’s Working Status service will already be able to do this, and when this is all over, can generate a report of all those transactions that need to be remediated..

financial services

NorthRow’s Right to Work Solution

NorthRow’s WorkingStatus app enables our clients to remotely verify employees’ or candidates’ Right to Work eligibility in minutes. The technology performs comprehensive identity and document verification, giving you real-time and actionable data on whom you can hire, whilst ensuring compliance with the latest Home Office regulation. 

Our Working Status solution will continue to meet the new legislative requirements by storing a statutory excuse both during this temporary period and the eight week remediation period that will follow.

Knock-on effects 

Whilst this is a short-term fix for the current crisis, In the longer term, I would expect the Home Office online checking service for EU citizens with settled status to be extended to cover first BRP’s and then possibly UK passport holders. These checks can already be carried out remotely under the existing guidance. So in a few years time, face-to-face right to work checks may be a thing of the past.

In summary 

Despite the recent contact restrictions, Right to Work verification continues to be necessary and it remains an offence to employ anyone without carrying out the required checks.

We work within multiple industries providing remote Right to Work solutions to ensure our clients can onboard employees safely whilst delivering Home Office compliance. If you have any questions regarding the new government guidance or how we can help you with your Right to Work processes, get in touch today to learn more.