COVID-19 right to work check concession to end on 16 May 2021

The ability to perform remote right to work checks for new employees will come to an end on 16 May 2021. On 30 March 2020, the UK government temporarily suspended the requirement for employers to carry out right to work checks on original documentation owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. In place of an original document check, employers have been required to carry out a soft-copy check on the individual’s right to work document by requesting a scanned copy of original document(s) and verifying the document’s authenticity via a video call. Employers are then required to record this check as an adjusted check owing to COVID-19. At the point of implementation, employers were instructed that this check would only provide them with a statutory excuse against illegal work for a temporary period; employers would then be required to carry out a new retrospective check, on the original document, within 8 weeks of the measures coming to an end.

On 20 April 2021, the UK government updated their webpage to state that the temporary COVID-19 right to work checks will come to an end on 16 May 2021. From 17 May 2021 onwards, employers must check an individual’s original right to work document, prior to commencing work, in order to establish a statutory excuse against illegal working. Alternatively, employers can use the electronic right to work portal to verify an individual’s right to work (note: this is only for those with a status under the EU Settlement Scheme or those with a Biometric Residence Permit). Importantly, the UK government have also confirmed that individuals whose soft-copy right to work check was carried out between 30 March 2020 and 16 May 2021 inclusive on the basis of the previous covid-concession do not require a retrospective updated check on their original document. A continuous statutory excuse will be established on the basis of the soft-copy check, provided it was taken in line with the UK government guidance in place at the time of the check being undertaken. It is therefore important employers ensure any checks which were taken during the concession period were taken precisely in line with the UK government guidance in order to ensure they hold a full statutory excuse on file.

If you have any questions relating to right to work checks, please contact