On 6 April, the Government is changing the way in which employers will check the right to work of both employees and potential new hires. Here we discuss what those changes mean for employers.
The move to digital identity certification only for foreign nationals
At the moment, foreign nationals who hold biometric cards can choose to demonstrate their right to work in the UK in 2 ways; by showing an employer their ‘physical’ card, or by sharing their status via the Home Office’s online service. Essentially employers and individuals have been able to choose between producing and checking a physical document (in each other’s presence) or sharing their immigration status online (without having to meet in person).
At the end of last year it was announced that from 6 April 2022 biometric card-holders will only be able to demonstrate their right to work in the UK using the Home Office online service. So from next month employers won’t be able to accept a physical card for the purposes of a right to work check, even if the card shows a later expiry date.
Online checks for British & Irish Passport Holders
Currently a British or Irish national can only evidence their right to work in the UK by presenting their ‘physical’ documents to the employer – no online service exists for employees to demonstrate their right to work in the UK. (You’ll be aware that concessions were made during the pandemic allowing scanned versions and video calls, but this ends 5 April 2022.) However, from 6 April 2022 new online right to work checks will be available for British and Irish Nationals.
To take advantage of this new facility, the employer would need to have subscription with a certified Identity Service Provider (IDSP). The IDSP will act on behalf of the employer to carry out the right to work checks. There will be a fee payable for this service.
So far there are no IDSP’s registered. As registrations develop a list will be available here allowing employers to source a provider to conduct remote right to work checks on their behalf. The employer remains responsible for the right to work check so employers must ensure the checks are being conducted in accordance with the Home Office’s guidance.
Where British and Irish employees are concerned, employers retain the option to check employees passports themselves but this will need to be conducted ‘in person’ by the employee presenting their original documents to their employer.
Updates to Codes of Practice
With the above changes come updates to the Codes of Practice for both Preventing Illegal Working and Avoiding Discrimination While Preventing Illegal Working. The latter has been extended to include for example, the need to ensure during right to work checks that employees/prospective employees are not treated more or less favourably if they hold an e-Visa.
Getting to grips with new government checks is never easy so I’d always recommend employers understand and get acquainted with online right to work checking process in advance of next month’s changes.
1 April 2022