Changes to Temporary COVID-19 Right to Work Checks

By Helen Burrowes

HR Consultant

As an employer, you will be well aware of the requirements on you to conduct a right to work check for any new employee working for your business, in order to prevent illegal working in the UK. The penalties for non-compliance of this can amount to 5 years in jail and an unlimited fine if you’re found guilty of employing someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to work in the UK.

The rules on Right to Work checks temporarily changed during the pandemic, whereby employers were permitted to carry out a temporary COVID-19 adjustment check. Employers were able to ask for the required ID in a digital format (e.g. sending scanned copies or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app) and then arrange a video call with the individual to see proof of the original documents by holding them up to the camera and checking against the digital copy. This was a temporary adjustment brought in to support the reduction in face to face contact, and where it was not possible to attend the workplace during the pandemic.

On 14 June 2021, with a further ease to lockdown restrictions, the government announced that from 31 August 2021 these temporary adjusted Right to Work checks would end. This was also supported by the government further relaxing their advice regarding working from home.

As a result of the changes, from 1 September 2021, businesses must return to carrying out the original process of face to face Right to Work checks. You must either check and certify the applicants original documents or check the applicants right to work online, if they have given a share code. We recommend that businesses therefore consider the logistics of reverting back to this face to face process in good time from 1 September 2021. Business directors should ensure those involved in the onboarding process, such as line managers or office administrators are aware of the shift in this process and ensure their processes are updated.

For the government advice on this change, click here; Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks – GOV.UK (

Nockolds HR can carry out right to work in the UK checks and other employment screening checks such as DBS, references, and adverse media checks for your business. We can also provide onboarding and probationary support for your new starter process.

For more information and to find out how we can help you, please contact the Nockolds HR Team on 0345 646 0406 or email us at . Alternatively, fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.