Your right to work update: what are the new rules?

James Potts - Legal Services Director

April 05 2022

Is your right to work check process up to date? From 6th April, you’ll have to change the way you hire overseas staff.

You might worry about what this means for your current and prospective employees. To avoid facing an illegal working penalty, find out what the new rules are…

What’s changed from 6th April?

Previously, you could check if someone has a right to work in the UK either online or by looking at their original documents in person.

For the majority of UK and Irish citizens, this will include a valid passport. For overseas nationals, it should be a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), a Biometric Residence Card (BRC), or a Frontier Worker Permit (FWP).

Now, there’ll be no more in-person checks for overseas staff. From 6th April, you’ll have to check BRP, BRC, and FWP holders through the Home Office online service only. You can no longer accept physical or scanned documents – even if they’re in date.

How should I verify workers from overseas now?

As part of the government’s plan to ‘digitise the system’, you’ll only be able to verify an overseas applicant’s right to work using the Home Office’s free online service. Do this by following the steps below:

  1. First, ask your applicant to start the online process on the ‘Prove your right to work’ portal and fill in their information.
  2. Your applicant needs to give you permission to view their status and this will generate a share code - e.g. A1234567F - that’s valid for 30 days.
  3. Ask your applicant to share their code with you. You’ll need this and their date of birth.
  4. Once you have the code, you can enter your applicant’s details into the ‘checker’ section of the website.

Do I need to carry out retrospective checks?

If you carried out a manual in-person check on a biometric card holder before 6th April, you won’t need to carry out a retrospective check because you were following the guidance that stood at the time.

Can I check overseas staff who don’t have a biometric card?

If your worker has only recently got permission to enter the UK and doesn’t yet have their BRP, BRC or FWP card, you’re allowed to check them manually. They should have physical evidence such as a stamp or vignette in their passport to use for the time being. They’ll then need to go and collect their BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

As the visa vignette is only valid for 30 days, you’ll need to make sure your employee provides you with their biometric card by the time the vignette expires. You’ll then need to carry out an online check using their biometric card.

Is a COVID-adjusted check still valid?

Temporary COVID-adjusted right to work checks were set up in March 2020. The government introduced them so you could carry out checks remotely under lockdown restrictions. This meant you could:

  • accept scanned or digital copies of original right to work documents via email or a mobile app
  • check right to work documents over a video call

You’re still able to carry out COVID-adjusted right to work checks on British and Irish citizens until 30th September 2022.

You won’t have to carry out retrospective checks on anyone who started working for you before and on 5th April 2022.

How does this change affect British and Irish citizens?

You are still able to carry out manual right to work checks for British and Irish citizens.

Because COVID-adjusted checks have been so popular, the Home Office has introduced a new online system for British and Irish citizens too – but only if they have a valid passport. If the worker’s passport has expired, you’ll have to do a manual check and use the Home Office online checking service.

Unlike BRP, BRC and FWP holders, British and Irish citizens will be able to upload images of their passports as evidence of their right to work. They’ll have to do this through a certified Identity Service Provider (IDSP) – but the list isn’t available yet.

An IDSP uses ‘identification document validation technology’ (IDVT) to verify someone’s identity remotely. It checks the validity of their ID and that the document definitely belongs to them. Using an IDSP will not be a legal requirement and you can still carry out a check yourself using physical documents.

Time to update your policy?

Now you know what the new rules are for right to work checks, you can prepare. COVID-adjusted checks will no longer be valid after 30th September 2022. So, it’s a good idea to update your internal policies and processes before the deadline.

Whether you need to update your existing policy or some HR advice around right to work checks, your 24/7 employment law experts will keep you informed, equipped and protected.

And if you’re not yet a client with Peninsula, call today on 0800 028 2420 to access unlimited HR support.

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