The Home Office has announced changes to employer right to work checks, effective 6 April 2022 that all employers must be aware of.
Carrying out right to work checks is an essential part of the recruitment process and it is important that employers are always up to date with any changes in this area.
At present, employers must ask new recruits for physical evidence of their right to work in the UK, such as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). From 6 April 2022, holders of BRPs, Biometric Residence Cards (BRCs) and Frontier Worker Permits must have their right to work checked online as the aforementioned documents will be removed from the lists of acceptable documents used to conduct a right to work check. The changes that have been announced are part of UK Visa and Immigration’s plan to digitise the system and cease use of physical proof of status by 2025.
When carrying out right to work checks out up to and including 5 April 2022, employers can use the online service or manually check the documents. However, employers must be careful not to discriminate against employees who prefer to use their physical card but can give all new starters the option of using the online service. If a manual check is carried out on or before 5 April 2022, a retrospective online check will not then be required and employers will have a statutory excuse against any civil penalty if the initial checks were carried out in line with the guidance that applied at the date of the check.
Employers will be acutely aware of carrying out pre-employment right to work checks and the importance of record-keeping in this regard, not to mention the potential fines that may be levied if the correct checks are not carried out or proper evidence of the checks is not retained on file. It is therefore essential that employers ensure that they follow the new process for all new recruits from 6 April 2022 and seek specialist advice if they are unsure about the process or have particular candidates whose circumstances appear more complex.