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Are You Ready for the Changes to Right to Work Checks for EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals on 1st July 2021?

In recent articles, we have written about the impending withdrawal of the COVID-19 adjusted right-to-work checks. These were due to come to an end on 20th June 2021, but due to the recent extension to the plans to remove the COVID-19 restrictions entirely on 14th June 2021, this has now been extended to 31st August 2021. From this date, face-to-face right-to-work checks will have to resume. But this is not the only imminent change to right to work checks; changes are also due from 1st July 2021 for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens. In this article, we will focus on the changes to the right to work checks which must be carried out by employers on EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens after 30th June 2021.

What Is Changing From 1st July 2021?

Under the current right to work check rules, prospective employees from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland can simply show their passport and/or national identity card to prove their right to work in the UK. However, in conjunction with the deadline for applications under the EU Settlement Scheme at the end of June 2021, further evidence will be required from 1st July 2021. As the latest Home Office guidance clarifies, “From 1st July 2021, new rules for the right to work checks will apply. EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens will need to provide evidence of lawful immigration status in the UK. You are not required to retrospectively check the status of any EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens you employed before 1st July 2021”. This last point is important to note because, as long as an employer has carried out right to work checks (for workers employed before the cut-off date) to the current pre-1st July 2021 standard, then they do not need to be checked again under the newer standard.

For new employees from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland who start after 30th June 2021, a full right to work check will need to be carried out. This can be done one of two ways:

  • By viewing their right to work permission online
  • By viewing their documents

Checking Right To Work Online

The digital right-to-work check process involves the employee first going onto the UK Home Office website and proving their right to work for an employer. To do this, they need to enter one of the following pieces of information:

  • biometric residence permit number
  • biometric residence card number
  • passport or national identity card

They are then taken through a number of steps to prove their right to work. They will then be given a ‘share code’, which they can give to a prospective employer to check the applicant’s right to work on the Home Office website. Once the share code is entered, the employer can view the types of work the individual is permitted to do and how long they can work in the UK (where a timeframe applies).

Checking Right To Work Using Documents

If for any reason, it is not possible to check a candidate’s right to work online, this can be done by checking their documents (e.g. passport and visa) manually. To complete the right to work check properly, employers will need to:

  • Ask to see the applicant’s original documents.
  • Check that the documents are valid with the applicant present.
  • Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date of the check.

The following must be verified for each right to work check:

  • the documents are genuine, original, and unchanged and belong to the person who has provided them
  • the dates for the applicant’s right to work in the UK have not expired
  • photos are the same across all documents and look like the applicant
  • dates of birth are the same across all documents
  • the applicant has permission to do the type of work being offered (including any limit on the number of hours they can work)
  • if two documents give different names, the applicant has supporting documents showing why they’re different, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree

The Home Office requires that copies should be taken of each document, in accordance with the following guidance:

  • make a copy that cannot be changed, for example, a photocopy
  • make sure the copy is clear enough to read
  • for passports, copy any page with the expiry date and applicant’s details (for example, nationality, date of birth, and photograph), including endorsements, for example, a work visa
  • for biometric residence permits and residence cards (biometric format), copy both sides
  • for all other documents, you must make a complete copy
  • keep copies during the applicant’s employment and for two years after they stop working for you
  • record the date the check was made

Remember, however, that until the end of August 2021, employers only need to adhere to the COVID-19 adjusted right to work check process. In real terms, this just means that checks can be done via a video call and that candidates (and existing workers) can elect to send scans or photos of their documents to be checked by email or a mobile app (i.e. originals are not required during this time). As part of this process, employers should ask the candidate to hold up the original versions of each document to the camera so these can be checked against the ones which have been sent digitally.

Final Words

While employers will need to treat EU, EEA, and Swiss workers the same way they handle workers from other countries when it comes to the right-to-work checks, the full face-to-face check process will not recommence until 1st September 2021. If you have any questions regarding the checks, you need to carry out and whether you are doing these correctly, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to advise you.

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