On 30 March 2020, as part of the government’s response to COVID-19, the Home Office introduced temporary adjustments to the right to work process. These changes have been revoked as of 30 September 2022.
Adjustments were introduced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, when meeting candidates face-to-face was no longer possible. Temporary changes enabled employers to continue to conduct necessary right to work checks remotely via video call, or to accept scanned copies or photographs of documentation in lieu of originals.
However, effective as of 1 October 2022, these temporary changes have been cancelled, and the way right to work checks are conducted has now changed. Before employment commences, employers will need to perform one of the following three checks:
- Online check using the Home Office online service;
- Right to work check using IDTV through the services on an IDSP; or
- An in-person, manual check using original documentation.
The Home Office has confirmed that employers do not need to carry out retrospective checks on employees that had an adjusted COVID-19 right to work check between 30 March 2020 and 30 September 2022.
Home Office online right to work service
The online checking service is available for individuals holding a biometric residence permit, a biometric residence card or frontier work permit. Candidates will continue to share a right to work share code with their employers, which will initiate the digital right to work verification process through the Home Office toolkit. Right to work status can be checked using the following link: View a job applicant's right to work details - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). This service remains free to use.
Engage the services of an IDSP
From 6 April 2022 employers can use certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out digital identity checks for British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport (including Irish passport cards). The use of IDVT will allow those in scope to remotely verify their identity and prove their eligibility to work. This is an alternative to manual checks.
Employers can work with certified digital identity service providers (IDSPs) to utilise IDVT. Whilst it is not mandatory for employers to use a certified IDSP for the purposes of right to work checks, the Home Office recommends that employers use a certified IDSP. This will provide assurance that their chosen IDSP meets relevant standards.
IDSPs can carry out digital identity verification to a range of standards. The Home Office recommends that employers only accept checks via an IDSP that satisfy a minimum of a medium level of confidence. A list of certified IDSPs are detailed at Section 6 of this government guidance: Digital identity certification for right to work, right to rent and criminal record checks - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
In-person manual checks using original documentation
If an employer does not appoint an IDSP they must conduct a manual, in-person right to work check for British and Irish citizens. With the Home Office now revoking remote right to work checks, effective as of 1 October 2022, employers may find that they are unable to avoid the need to undertake manual right to work checks and must review their policies accordingly.
Original documents from List A of the following Home Office guidance must be obtained and checked: An employer's guide to right to work checks: 6 April 2022 (accessible version) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) (Annex A: Lists of acceptable documents).
What does this mean for employers?
Employers can continue to utilise the Home Office online right to work service for non-British/Irish citizens. Additionally, employers that engage an IDSP will be able to complete remote checks for applicants with a valid British or Irish passport. Importantly, employers that do not choose to work with an IDSP will have to complete manual, in-person checks for British and Irish citizens.
Employers should note that, even where candidates are able to establish their right to work status either through the Home Office online service or via an IDSP, these candidates are entitled to refuse those methods and request a manual check. Employers must not treat candidates less favourably if they refuse these alternative methods and must allow individuals to prove their right to work status by way of a manual check.
Need more information?
Contact Mandeep Khroud: mandeep.Khroud@irwinmitchell.com or +44 (0)207 6503818.