Close up on a UK visa

Physical right to work checks delayed

Following pressure from business groups, including the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the return to physical right to work checks has been delayed until 21 June.

Under the original schedule, from Monday 17 May, currently applicable ‘digital’ right-to-work checks, introduced to help stop the spread of Coronavirus, would stop, meaning umbrella companies and other employers would no longer be able to accept a new worker’s scanned copy or a photo of original documents. 

The plan was met by criticism from industry bodies, who have now successfully encouraged the Home Office to postpone the changes.  APSCo has said, however, that it is disappointed that there has been no confirmation of a permanent move to digital checks.

Speaking about the government’s announcement, Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo said:

“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.”

Shazia Ejaz, campaigns director at the REC agreed, saying that while it welcomed the government’s decision to delay in-person checks, it will continue to push for digital checks to remain in place for the long haul, and REC members have proven that these checks work and increase efficiency for all concerned.