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Covid right to work concessions to end May 2021

26 April 2021

Please note: the information contained in this legal update is correct as of the original date of publication.

The Home Office have announced that it will end their temporary adjustments to the process of checking an individual’s right to work in the UK on 16 May 2021.

In a response to the pandemic, the Covid right to work check adjustments provides employers with a defence against a civil penalty where checks are based on scanned copies or photos of original documents. Checks can be carried out by video link with the original documents in the possession of the individual. Alternatively, the employer may use the Home Offices right to work check tool with individual’s permission while in contact with them over video link.

End of temporary adjustments

From 17 May 2021, employers must once again check an individual’s original documents, rather than scans or photographs of the originals, or use the Home Offices online right to work check tool. Checks must be carried out in the physical presence of the individual or via a live video link while the original documents are in the possession of the employer.

Retrospective checks

The Home Office has confirmed that employers will not be required to carry out full right to work checks retrospectively on those who had a Covid adjusted check was carried out whilst the concessions were in force between 30 March 2020 and 16 May 2021. This reflects length of time the adjusted checked have been in place and supports business during this difficult time.

Employers may continue to use the adjusted process until 16 May 2021 and full details can be found here.

It remains an offence to work illegally in the UK. Any individual identified who is disqualified from working due to their immigration status may be liable to enforcement action.

Therefore, it is also vital employers are comfortable that they have done all the required checks in full compliance, so they have a statutory excuse against illegal working. Businesses which employ individuals they knew or had reasonable cause to believe did not have the right to work in the UK face civil and criminal penalties.

This is particularly important for EU/EEA nationals as they have limited time to secure free movement rights/status under the EU Settlement Scheme and it is uncertain the extent of checks employers will undertake against them.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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