The government has confirmed that they will delay the reintroduction of in-person right to work checks to 1 September 2021, instead of their previous effective date of 21 June 2021. In an update to the guidance, the Home Office said that the new date for reintroducing in-person checks was “in order to allow sufficient time to put measures in place to enable face to face document checks”.
From 1 September 2021 employers must check the prescribed documents set out in the Employer’s Guide. This means when carrying out a document check employers must be in possession of the original documents. Employers can no longer accept a scanned copy or a photo of original documents.
Alternatively employers can use the Home Office right to work online service which does not require the employer to see or check the individual’s physical documents. Importantly, this option is limited to certain visa types and status, i.e. not British Nationals.
Arguably it is completely illogical to rule out the digital checks which have been working perfectly well, albeit they were only ever a temporary measure. At the current time there are skills shortages in several sectors (particularly hospitality and construction), and returning to face to face checks will delay recruitment of candidates at this critical time. Furthermore, the fact that online checks have functioned perfectly effectively for over 12 months now, and are efficient, it seems incredulous to take a retrospective step backwards when paper document checks are easier to fake.
Whilst businesses are advised to prepare for the reversal coming in from 1 September 2021, it is also hoped that the government will see sense and allow digital checks to be a permanent option, allowing greater flexibility and efficiency for all concerned.