All employers in the UK have a duty to prevent illegal working. This involves carrying out right to work checks on all employees before they start work. Since March 2020 the rules for employers carrying out right to work checks have been relaxed to account for the difficulties caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. For instance, document checks could be carried out over video calls. It also allowed for employees to send scans or photographs of original documents.
This is set to change as of 1 October 2022 when the original rules will be enforced once again. It will not be sufficient to see copies of documents and the originals must be supplied and checked in person. The right to work online checker is also a viable, and free, option.
Alternatively, the employer can engage the services of a certified Identity Service Provider who will use Identity Document Validation Technology to undertake digital identity verification for British and Irish citizens. This is a relatively new service that has only been an option for employers since April 2022. It is important to note when considering this option that it is ultimately still the employer’s responsibility that checks are carried out correctly.
The changes do not apply retrospectively so any checks carried out during the period of relaxed rules will not need to be completed again.
Overall, it is essential for employers to have good record keeping systems in place. A copy of the employee’s documentation and the date that it was checked should be retained for the length of their employment as well as for two years after. This is especially important as the penalties for breaking these rules include a civil penalty up to a maximum of £20,000 per employee and criminal convictions with a prison sentence of up to 5 years and an unlimited fine.
If you have any questions on any of the issues mentioned in the above article, please contact Natalia Milne.