With the arrival of spring comes the hope of better weather, more opportunities to meet in person and..... an announcement from the Home Office that the temporary Covid-19 adjusted right to work check measures will end on 16 May 2021.
That's right, employers will need to return to make physical checks of original documents to verify an employee's right to work.
The temporary changes, which have been in place for over a year since 30 March 2020, have allowed right to work checks to be carried out over video calls and for job applicants and existing workers to send scanned documents or a photo of their documents to employers via email or a mobile app, rather than sending an employer the originals.
However, from 17 May 2021, employers must once again either:
1) Check the applicant's original documents;
2) Check the applicant's right to work online, if they have provided the employer with their share code.
When the temporary measures were implemented, employers were told that they would need to carry out follow-up checks on any employees who had a Covid-19 adjusted check within eight weeks of the temporary measures ending. However, the Home Office has now confirmed that retrospective checks will not be required. That's one less thing to check for recruitment and HR personnel! This means that employers will maintain a statutory defence against a civil penalty if the check undertaken was done in the prescribed manner or as set out in the Covid-19 adjusted checks guidance.
So it would appear that we are gearing up for business as usual again. However, with many employees still working from home and employers still working out what a return to the office is actually going to look like in practice from June 2021 onwards, ensuring physical checks on original documents for imminent new starters are done may remain a bit of a challenge initially.
The temporary adjustments to right to work checks due to COVID-19 are ending.