Guides & Advice

The end is near: COVID-19 right to work guidance update

Published: 22nd June 2021
Area: Business Immigration
Updated 18 June: Following the government’s delay on lifting restrictions, The Home Office has updated the Right to Work checks guidance for business’ and their employees during COVID-19.
What does the updated guidance say?

Since 30 March 2020 concession have been in place to allow employers to complete their right to work checks virtually – preventing many employees from attending their work offices as normal.

The Home Office has confirmed this concession will now end on 31 August 2021 and employers will once again be required to conduct the usual pre COVID-19 right to work checks on their employees on or before their first working day, and for follow up checks before the visa end date. More significantly, employers do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 31 August 2021. They will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check they have undertaken during this period was done in the prescribed manner, or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance.

What should employers do?

To prevent compliance risks, it is recommended that employers review their internal processes to anticipate usual Right to Work check processes resuming from 1 September 2021. Scanned and digital copies of original documents will no longer be acceptable and they will not provide a defence against enforcement action. Employers must be presented with the physical document in its original form, unless using the Home Office’s online checking service.

This raises its own challenges, given many businesses are not considering a return to the office any time soon, if at all. Due to the impact of COVID-19, some individuals may struggle to show evidence of their right to work; therefore employers are urged to take extra care to prevent discrimination against job applicants or employees because they are unable to show their documents.

The Home Office’s online Right to Work checking service is available in respect of individuals who hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), or who have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or points-based immigration system. This service can only be used with the permission of the individual, and employers must be careful not to discriminate against those who refuse to allow access to their records.

What happens if someone is employed who cannot legally work in the UK?

Failure to perform right to work checks correctly could result in unwanted Home Office scrutiny and serious ramifications, including;

  • Civil penalties of up to £20,000 per illegal worker;
  • Court-ordered closure of businesses;
  • Prison sentences for individuals involved; and
  • Revocation or limiting sponsor licences for businesses.
We’re here if you have any queries

If you require any assistance about right to work checks and general compliance, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

SHMA® ON DEMAND

Listen to our SHMA® ON DEMAND content covering a broad range of topics to help support you and your business.

Agriculture: diversifying or leasing your land to create habitat banks

6 Jul

Peter Snodgrass, Partner & Head of Agriculture
Agriculture: diversifying or leasing your land to create habitat banks

We know that biodiversity net gains provide a significant opportunity for landowners to diversify […]

Teachers’ Pension Scheme – strategic issues independent schools need to think about

20 Jul

Esther Maxwell, Legal Director | Emma Glazzard, Solicitor
Teachers’ Pension Scheme – strategic issues independent schools need to think about

Webinar Teachers’ Pension Scheme – strategic issues independent schools need to think about In […]

Misconduct outside the workplace and business disrepute

8 Sep

Michael Hibbs, Partner
Misconduct outside the workplace and business disrepute

In this webinar, Mike Hibbs – Partner and Robin Gronbech - Solicitor in our […]

Preparing for business exit and beyond

24 Jun

Jody Webb, Partner
Preparing for business exit and beyond

When your business has been your life, how do you separate the emotional investment […]

Our Latest Thoughts

All the latest views and insights on current topics.

Employment Contracts Vs Consultancy Agreements

27 Jun

Employment Contracts

Employment Contracts Vs Consultancy Agreements

Read article Right Arrow

Shakespeare Martineau appoints expert director to company secretary team

20 Jun

Corporate & Commercial

Shakespeare Martineau appoints expert director to company secretary team

Read article Right Arrow

Spring 2022 Consumer Finance Update

17 Jun

For the individual

Spring 2022 Consumer Finance Update

Read article Right Arrow

Helping employees keep their cool in a heatwave

17 Jun

Employment

Helping employees keep their cool in a heatwave

Read article Right Arrow

We win top intellectual property award

16 Jun

Firm News

We win top intellectual property award

Read article Right Arrow