Right to Work Update: UK Government Postpones Return to Physical Right to Work Checks

The government is postponing the return to in-person

right to work checks until June 21st.

We recently provided a right to work check update advising companies to prepare for the reintroduction of physical checks. However, due to industry lobbying from various bodies including the Association of Profession Staffing Companies (APSCo) and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the government has decided to postpone that decision until June 21st.

Within the last hour, the government updated its advisory page to reflect the new policy. However, the news had been circling broadly across social media and the press. Both Personnel Today and HR review published guidance on the topic today.

Therefore, the date that the government will reintroduce physical right to work checks now aligns with the date that it will lift all lockdown restrictions. You can view this on the government roadmap.


A Home Office spokesperson said:

β€œWe have kept in close contact with employers throughout the pandemic to ensure we are supporting them to undertake right-to-work checks with ease.

β€œAfter consulting with the sector extensively, we have been informed that the majority of employers will not be in a position to return fully to the office by 17 May. Therefore we have taken the decision to push back the date for physical document checks to resume from 21 June.”

With the REC Campaigns Director, Shazia Ejaz, calling this right to work update a “big win for recruiters”:

After pressure from the REC and others, the Home office has pushed back the end date for digital Right to Work checks to 21 June instead of the planned date of May 17th. This is a big win for recruiters. It allows them to continue with digital checks while social distancing is still in place.

We wrote to the Home Secretary in April highlighting our concerns over both the timing of the proposed return to physical checks, which at least has now been addressed, but also the fact that a return to physical checks will disproportionately disadvantage UK workers. This is because there is already an online checking service via a share code for EU nationals which can be remote and for non-EU workers through the Government Employer Checking Service. However, the Passport Office has no online service for UK nationals.

Additionally, physical checking does not mean safer. People are not as good as technology is at spotting fraudulent documents. We had hoped that the Home Office would prioritise the expansion of digital checks – a process much more suitable for the modern world of flexible work – it also flies in the face of the Home Office’s ‘digital by design’ concept and we will continue to lobby Government for a permanent digital check which have worked so well over the last year.