What are the new right to work rules?

  • Employment Law
James Potts - Legal Services Director at Peninsula

James Potts, Legal Services Director

(Last updated )

On 1st October, right to work rules changed. And if you don’t comply with the new guidelines, you could face hefty fines or even legal prosecution…

In March 2020, temporary COVID-adjusted right to work checks were set up. This allowed employers to carry out checks of British and Irish citizens remotely under lockdown restrictions.

Now, you won't be able to do this anymore. Which means you may need to change the way you onboard staff.

To stay compliant with the new rules, here’s what you need to know.

30th September marked the end of COVID-adjusted checks

As of 1st October, COVID-adjusted checks are a thing of the past. So, you won’t be able to check someone’s right to work by looking at a picture or a scanned copy of their documents.

You also won’t be able to carry out checks using video calls, emails, or any apps. Now, if you want to check someone’s right to work, you have two options.

You can carry out in-person checks (the rules will remain the same)

In-person right to work checks will stay the same. So, you’ll still be able to complete a manual check of British and Irish citizens’ original documents.

…Or you can complete a digital right to work check using an IDSP

Alternatively, if you want to carry out a digital right to work check, the government recommends you use a certified identity service provider (IDSP). To do this, your worker will need to provide an image of a valid British or Irish passport. An IDSP then carries out checks digitally on your behalf.

You can find a list of certified IDSPs on the official government website.

You will also need to keep records of the digital check for up to two years after an employee leaves your company.

How have right to work checks changed for foreign nationals?

You can only carry out right to work checks digitally using an IDSP on British and Irish citizens.

For foreign nationals, you’ll need to either carry out a manual check or an online check using the Home Office’s free online checking service. As part of this process, you may need to ask your overseas applicant to start an application on the ‘prove your right to work’ portal and fill in their information.

You can find out more about how to check overseas applicants here.

What happens if I don’t comply with the new guidelines?

You could receive a fine of up to £20,000 for each worker you haven’t checked in line with the rules. Or, you may even face a criminal conviction.

What should I do now to stay compliant?

Now the deadline has passed, it’s vital you make sure your internal policies and processes are up to date. You shouldn’t leave a right to work check until your new starter’s first day if at all possible. If you can, bring them in beforehand.

You should also add a right to work clause in your offer letter and employment contracts. So, if your worker doesn’t have the right to work in the UK, you can terminate their contract.

After you’ve done this, make sure your onboarding process and existing policy is up to date.

It sounds like a lot to do but don’t panic.

To update your existing policy or make sure you’re compliant, give us a call today on 0800 029 4384 to get instant advice and documentation support from a HR adviser.

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