Carrying out Right to Work checks during Covid-19 Crisis

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11
Oct

Carrying out Right to Work checks during Covid-19 Crisis

Organizational reps and teammates responsible for carrying out Right to Work checks are working remotely. However, maintaining compliance in accordance with the UKVI policy requires that the Right to Works checks must continue, in a befitting manner as the situation may dictate.

Now, Covid-19 prevention regulations prevent employers to carry out these checks in an appropriate and simple manner, thus presenting hurdles in their way for the task of ensuring Right to Work checks. A previous delay between lockdown and a change in UKVI policy has finally been rectified now.

There have been made some temporary adjustments in carrying out the Right to Work checks due to the Covid-19 crisis to ensure ease and flexibility for employers responsible for carrying these out.

As of March 30, 2020, some of the temporary changes made to assist employers in carrying out right to work checks are as follows:

  • video calls are permitted to carry out checks;
  • sharing of scanned documents or document snapshots using email or a mobile app are permitted to be used for checks instead of the original documents;
  • employers are advised to use Employer Checking Service in case an employee is unable to provide any of the accepted documents.

It is imperative that employers continue to implement Right to Work checks and mandatorily carry these out as per the employer’s guide. Knowingly employing any worker who does not have a Right to Work in the UK is an punishable offence.

There may be some cases wherein individuals may be unable to furnish proofs for their Right to Work, due to the Covid-19 crisis. Therefore, extra care must be taken to ensure fairness and equality and that no employee or a prospective applicant is discriminated against because they are unable to furnish their documents and proofs. Please see the code of practice for employers: avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working for more advice on such matters.

The following steps can go a good way managing the Right to Work checks on an ad hoc basis:

  • The employees shall submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents through email or a mobile app.
  • Through a special-purpose video call, employees must hold up and showcase the original documents through the camera to be inspected by the employer, who then must check them against the submitted digital copies.
  • All dates of the instances when checks have been made should be recorded.
  • Workers having current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme are advised to use the online right to work checking service during a video call.

In case a job applicant or an existing employee is unable to show their documents, the employer must contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service. A Positive Verification Notice shall be furnished to the employer if the employee in question has a Right to Work. The employer then has 6 months from the date of notice to furnish validated Right to Work proofs from the employee.

Steps after the lifting of restrictions:

The employers shall be kept informed by the UKVI of the likely end date for the temporary changes outlined above. The employers must revert to the following Right to Work check process after that date:

Retrospective checks must be also carried out on existing employees who:

  • started working in the midst of the temporary check process which has now ended;
  • were required to follow-up on their right to work check during the previous temporary measures

Employers must mention the work check details on individuals’ relevant work documents.

Once the Covid-19 measures have ended, the retrospective check must be carried out within a maximum of 8 weeks. Detailed records from both checks must be kept to be produced to the UKVI officials in due course of time.

If all the checks are carried out as above once the temporary measures have ended, the UKVI shall not take any enforcement action against the employer. However, if it is revealed that an employee does not have necessary permission to be in the UK, the employer must end the employment of that employee immediately.

It is to be noted here that if an employer has carried out the right to work checks normally during this Covid-19 period, they shall not be required to carry out the retrospective right to work checks once the temporary measures are ended.

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