The Home Office and Immigration Enforcement published advice on 30th March 2020 for employers carrying out right to work checks during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The guidance states that “As of 30 March 2020 the following temporary changes have been made:

  • checks can now be carried out over video calls
  • job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents

Checks continue to be necessary and you must continue to check the prescribed documents listed in right to work checks: an employer’s guide. It remains an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK.

Because of COVID-19, some individuals may be unable to evidence their right to work. During this period, you must take extra care to ensure no-one is discriminated against as a job applicant or employee because they are unable to show you their documents. For more information, please see the code of practice for employers: avoiding unlawful discrimination while preventing illegal working.”

This is a temporary change and, once ended, employers will be expected to then carry out the full checks retrospectively on any employees who started work during the pandemic.

Full details of how the temporary checks should be undertaken, as well as what happens when the measures end, are available here.