In another very late notice change, the government has confirmed that right to work checks can continue to take place digitally until at least 5 April 2022. This is the latest in a long-running saga which we have previously reported on several times.
All UK employers are required by law to undertake right to work checks for all of their staff, and prior to COVID this was generally undertaken in person, often by checking passports or other documentation. With the onset of COVID and lockdowns, in-person checks contradicted government policy so digital right to work checks were temporarily allowed. These had been due to be rescinded with effect from 1 September, however with just 2 working days prior to the change the government has confirmed digital checks can continue.
The following temporary changes were made on 30 March 2020 and now remain in place until 5 April 2022:
- checks can currently be carried out over video calls
- job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
- employers should use the Home Office Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents
The Home Office confirmed that they made the decision following the positive feedback we received about the ability to conduct checks remotely. Given that digital checks generally take 5 minutes compared to 45 minutes for in-person checks, and that physical documentation is much easier to fake than digital checks, then allowing the status quo to continue is a very sensible decision.
The Home Office also announced that they intend to introduce a new digital solution to include many who are unable to use the Home Office online checking service, including UK and Irish citizens. This will enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.
In other words, digital right to work checks look set to stay!