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Right to work and follow up checks

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Right to work and follow up checks temporarily adjusted in light of COVID-19

Employers are required to carry out right to work checks on all employees before the start of their employment, as well as follow up checks for those with time limited permissions to live and work in the UK. Failure to comply could result in fines and criminal action.

Normally these checks are carried out by checking an individual’s original documents. However in light of COVID-19, this is not always feasible and therefore temporary adjustments have been made to make matters easier for businesses.

From 30th March 2020, employers can ask individuals to submit their immigration documents in alternative formats other than in original format, but only if this is not possible. This enables individuals to provide copies of the original documents through the use of a scanner, taking a photo, using a mobile phone app or by simply holding the document during a video call. All that the employer needs to do is record the date and make a note on a copy of the document that an adjusted check was undertaken due to COVID-19.

It is understood that when the Government’s measures in relation to COVID-19 come to an end, employers will have up to 8 weeks to carry our retrospective right to work and follow up checks in the usual way. Upon receipt of an original document, the employer needs to record when the employment commenced and that a retrospective check was undertaken on the specified date.

Copies of both checks should remain on file in the event that follow up enquires are made from the Home Office.

Due to COVID-19, some workers may struggle to evidence their right to work, especially if technology is an issue. As such, employers should ensure workers are not discriminated because they are unable to provide their immigration documents. As such employers should use the Home Office’s Employer Checking Service to check an individual’s immigration status.

In any event, if it becomes clear at any point that an individual does not have the right to work in the UK, the business must end their employment.

Please contact us if you require any advice on any of the employment and HR issues referred to above. Please contact Sally Morris on 01905 610410 or at to discuss any frequently asked questions.