For 800 P&O Ferries’ employees, last week was a particularly bad one. 

Via a zoom meeting, they were informed they no longer had jobs and were unceremoniously escorted off the ferries and told their jobs would be taken by a “third party agency”. These agencies, according to some press reports, are paying as little as £2.00 per hour. 

On so many levels this is problematic - livelihoods wiped away in a five-minute zoom call, failure to follow UK employment law on redundancies of more than 20 staff, and UK taxpayers potentially guaranteeing P&O’s pension pot.  

A further problem is whether P&O has taken account of the updated right to work checks. Given the complex corporate structure of P&O, it is ultimately owned by the Dubai Government, it may avoid another of its responsibilities by not being a UK registered company. However, for other companies seeking to emulate P&O’s example of cutting costs, they should be mindful of the rules on right to work checks or they could find themselves subject to rather hefty fines. 

Some of the changes the Government has announced are as follows;

  • Individuals holding Biometric Residence Cards, Biometric Residence Permits or Frontier Work Permits can (from 6 April 2022) only be checked using the Home Office Online system
  • EEA and Swiss citizens must have applied for EU settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and hold a Certificate of Application confirming a valid application has been made – without settled status, they must seek immigration status as any non-EEA citizen
  • Digital Identity Verification Systems can now be used to check workers with British or Irish passports
  • Video right to works checks for manual documents may continue until 30 September 2022 but they are now less justifiable given the end of Covid-19 restrictions

The detail of these changes and processes is beyond the scope of this blog. If your organisation needs help on navigating the right to work checks guidance, we have created a more comprehensive resource that you might find useful.

Please contact me for further details.