There are important changes coming up imminently regarding Right to Work checks.
These follow deadlines set as part of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement, and the COVID-19 concession introduced during the pandemic.
Here is a quick review of what happens when, and how it affects you as an employer.
Right to work checks for EEA citizens until 30 June 2021
The most immediate date concerns the EU Settlement Scheme, where the grace period for EEA citizens to make an application under the scheme ends on 30 June 2021. EEA citizens can continue to use their passport and national identity cards as a valid Right to Work check, up to and including 30 June 2021.
Alternatively, those who have been granted a status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) can prove their status using the online Right to Work checking service.
You don’t need to conduct a retrospective check for EEA nationals employed prior to 30 June 2021, and provided employment was continuous, an existing check will remain sufficient.
What happens from 1 July 2021?
From 1 July 2021, EEA citizens and their family members can no longer rely on their EEA passport or national identity card to prove their right to work in the UK. Instead they must prove their immigration status in the same way as all other foreign nationals.
As an employer, you will need your EEA workers (hired after 1 July 2021), granted a status under EUSS, to provide a share code, so you can carry out a Right to Work check.
Your EEA workers who are ineligible under EUSS must show you an alternative form of immigration status, such as a Skilled Worker visa, to demonstrate their Right to Work status.
Irish citizens continue to have unrestricted access to work in the UK, and their Irish passports, Irish passport card or Irish birth or adoption certification (along with an official document to show their National Insurance number) remain sufficient to prove their right to Work status.
COVID-19 Right to Work concession ends on 31 August 2021
The COVID-19 Right to Work concession was introduced during the pandemic, following government advice that people should work from home where possible. This meant that the traditional Right to Work face to face document checks were not possible.
Instead, the concession allowed employers to check Right to Work documents on video calls, with job applicants or existing employees sending scanned versions of documents rather than the originals. The individual would hold the original document to camera for checking against the scanned version, which the employer had previously received. This allowed employers to continue to hire, while still complying with Right to Work guidance.
Initially, the government indicated retrospective checks would be needed for all employees who had only had a COVID-concession check. However, it has now been decided no retrospective checks will be necessary.
The COVID-19 concession will now end on 31 August 2021 and you will need to apply normal Right to Work checks from 1 September 2021.
Helping you comply
All employers must conduct a prescribed Right to Work check before employing someone. A valid check provides a statutory excuse against illegal working and can be audited by the UK Home Office.
Most Right to Work checks can be conducted online using the Online Right to Work checks introduced in 2019. However, for some employees who hold physical documents, such as British citizens, and those with paper immigration status documents, a manual check should still be performed to prevent discrimination.