The Home Office has announced an upcoming change in the way right to work checks are to be conducted for Biometric Residence Card (BRC), Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and Frontier Worker Permit (FWP) holders.
Starting on 6 April 2022, BRC, BRP and FWP holders will have to evidence their right to work in the UK by using the Home Office online service and will no longer be permitted to provide physical immigration documents to their employers as evidence of their right to work in the UK.
Retrospective right to work checks will not be required for those BRC or BRP holders who were employed up to and including 5 April 2022, with employers maintaining a statutory excuse against a civil penalty so long as the initial right to work checks were carried out in line with the guidance in effect at that time.
Those BRC, BRP, or FWP holders starting a new job on 6 April 2022 or later must use the Home Office online service to prove their right to work to their employer, even if their BRC/BRP/FWP shows an expiry date later than 6 April 2022.
This announcement follows on from the Home Office’s decision to give its final extension of the end date for temporary adjusted right to work checks, which should be on 5 April 2022.
Shortly after the UK went into its first national lockdown in March 2020, the Home Office put a temporary concession in place allowing for right to work checks to be conducted remotely, enabling employers to accept emailed copies of right to work documents which are verified over video calls with the employee/potential employee. Due to the unpredictable nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, the end date for this temporary concession has been delayed numerous times.
The Home Office has boasted about the high level of positive feedback received from employers who are happy with being able to conduct right to work checks remotely under the temporary adjusted procedure, so it is no coincidence that the Home Office has taken the decision to scrap in-person physical document checks and digitise the process, and that this change will be in effect from 6 April 2022; one day after the temporary adjusted right to work concession comes to an end.
As with all types of technology, no system is perfect, and there may be circumstances where the Home Office online service may not be able to verify an employee’s right to work. In these cases, an employer must use the Home Office Employer Checking Service (ECS), which will provide the employer with a time-limited statutory excuse against a civil penalty.
Covid-19 has changed the workplace , and the Home Office has also had to adapt to this increasingly remote world of work. We are seeing the Home Office accept emailed copies of documents across all types of immigration categories. It is unclear whether this is a reactionary measure or whether the Home Office will make their requirements for documents more stringent once the world comes out of this pandemic, whenever that may be.