Coronavirus: Home Office speeds up right to work checks

Priti Patel
Home secretary Priti Patel
Photo: Shutterstock

The government has adjusted the way right to work checks can be conducted during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the time being, the Home Office will not require employers (and landlords) to see original documents and will allow checks to be undertaken over video calls. Checks can now be carried out online, by video call, and applicants can send copies of identification electronically instead of posting originals.

Prospective workers and renters are now able to submit scanned documents, rather than originals, to show they have a right to work or a right to rent.

The Home Office underlined, however, that checks continued to be necessary and it was an offence to knowingly employ or let property to anyone who does not have legal immigration status in the UK.

It also advised that if a prospective or existing employee (or tenant) could not provide any of the accepted documents, the employer (or landlord) should use the Employer Checking Service (or Landlord Checking Service).

Home secretary Priti Patel said: “I have introduced these temporary changes to help employers and landlords conduct checks more easily as people follow advice to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives, during the coronavirus outbreak.”

Right to work checks are a requirement on employers to make sure a job applicant is allowed to work in the UK before employing them.

The move follows a campaign by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), aiming to allow key workers to locate quickly while respecting social distancing measures.

Neil Carberry, CEO of the REC said: “We are very pleased that the government has listened and taken action.

“These changes mean that right to work checks for key workers, like doctors and nurses, can now be completed online, respecting social distancing measures. The need for face-to-face interaction, or posting original documents, was an unnecessary barrier which reduced our members ability to place people in jobs where they were needed quickly.

“Today’s announcement is another example of what can be achieved by government and business organisations working together. We now urge the procurement frameworks to follow government in Health & Social Care and Education.”

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