We previously reported that employers would need to revert back to checking workers’ physical documents when conducting right to work checks, despite the fact that digital checks have proven effective during the last year. However temporary changes to allow digital checks were only temporary, and were only introduced due to the pandemic.
The government has confirmed that they will delay the reintroduction of in-person right to work checks to 21 June 2021, instead of their original effective date of 17 May 2021. In an update to the guidance, the Home Office said that the new date for reintroducing in-person checks was “aligned with the easing of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures”.
From 21 June 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. Furthermore the reversal back to physical checks is discriminatory as only certain visa types and statuses can be checked via the online service, meaning it will be inefficient and more time consuming to check the right to work in the UK for the majority of job applicants.
Whilst businesses are advised to prepare for the reversal coming in from 21 June 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.