Coronavirus: Right to work checks

News article

Advice for employers carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus pandemic

The end date for the temporary adjusted checks has now been deferred to 5 April 2022 (inclusive). The Home Office have made the decision to defer the date following the positive feedback they received about the ability to conduct checks remotely. The Home Office initiated a review of the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital right to work checks in the future. The intention is to introduce a new digital solution to include many who are unable to use the Home Office online checking service, including UK and Irish citizens. This will enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.

Deferring the end date of the adjusted checks to 5 April 2022 ensures the Right to Work Scheme continues to operate in a manner which supports employers, whilst the Home Office look to implement a long-term, post-pandemic solution.

Updated advice for employers carrying out right to work checks during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The following temporary changes were made on 30 March 2020 and remain in place until 5 April 2022 (inclusive):

  • checks can currently 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 Home Office 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 set out in right to work checks: an employer’s guide or use the Home Office right to work online service. It remains an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK.

Checking an individual’s right to work using the temporary COVID-19 adjusted check measures

Up to and including 5 April 2022, if you are carrying out a temporary adjusted check, you must:

  • ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
  • arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents record the date you made the check and mark it as "adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19"
  • if the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system you can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details.

Online right to work service

The Home Office right to work online service gives you a defence against a civil penalty. You don’t need to see or check the individual’s documents, as right to work information is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems.

Employers cannot insist individuals use this service or discriminate against those who choose to use their documents to prove their right to work.

Retrospective checks

You do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 (inclusive). This reflects the length of time the adjusted checks have been in place and supports business during this difficult time.

You will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check you have undertaken during this period was done in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance.

It remains an offence to work illegally in the UK. Any individual identified who is disqualified from working by reason of their immigration status, may be liable to enforcement action.

If the job applicant or existing worker cannot show their documents

You must contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service. If the person has a right to work, the Employer Checking Service will send you a ‘Positive Verification Notice’. This provides you with a statutory excuse for 6 months from the date in the notice.


First published 31 March 2020