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The Home Office has announced a further delay in the resumption of physical right-to-work checks.
Plans to resume physical checks on 21 June had been strongly criticised by business organisations in light of the four-week delay in unlocking Covid restrictions and the slow pace of the return to offices, and the government has responded by saying it will continue with the Covid-19 “adjusted” checks until 1 September 2021.
Responding to the announcement, Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said: “This is a sensible decision that will keep the jobs market moving. We’re pleased government has listened, and we look forward to working with the Home Office on the next logical step – a permanent digital system.”
The REC had estimated that more than 300,000 people a week would have been delayed from starting work if the Home Office plan to reimpose physical checks had gone ahead on 21 June.
It had argued that mandating in-person checks went against government public health guidance to continue to work from home where possible.
There was also an ambiguity that would have arisen on 21 June whereby digital checks would have continued for foreign nationals, meaning UK citizens were effectively being disadvantaged.
Each digital check only takes around five minutes – but an in-person check can take closer to 45 minutes, the lobby group said.
However, shunting the reimplementation of physical checks to a later date did not resolve the issue, the REC said and it is now urging the Home Office to allow digital checks for the long term, or at the very