COVID-19 and Right to Work Check Procedures


Employers have a crucial role to play in ensuring all employees within an organisation are not working illegally. Businesses are required to check any employee has the right to work in the UK, and this is done via a very straightforward process.


What is a Right to Work Check?

Employers check right to work documents that confirm a person’s permission to work in the UK. Without authorised proof of right to work, an individual cannot work legally in the UK. Any right to work check must be carried out before an applicant is employed, to ensure they are authorised to carry out any work. 

Checking documents for the right to work in the UK follows a simple procedure:

  1. Employers obtain original documents
  2. They check the validity of the documents with the person present
  3. Produce clear copies of documents and record the date this was done

The above process was the norm for many years, until earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic hit. To minimise contamination and maximise safety, the government (as expected) adjusted all right to work checks. Even though they are still mandatory, temporary measures came into effect in March 2020 to accommodate employees who might have difficulty proving the original evidence of their right to work in the UK.


What Does COVID-19 Mean for Right to Work Checks?

As of March 2020, the following procedure has been established regarding any right to work checks (on existing employees as well as new ones).

  • Employers can check employees’ right to work remotely, via video conferencing software.
  • Prospective and existing workers can produce scanned copies or photographs of right to work documents to employers, and send them electronically via email or using a mobile app.
  • If anybody is unable to provide any prescribed documents, employers can use the Employer Checking Service.
  • Employees should produce the original documents on video, to the employer, who can then check them against the digital copies.
  • Employers should still record the dates of the online right to work check, and ensure that it was under special COVID-19-related circumstances.


How to Check if Someone Has the Right to Work 

Employers must get the prospective or current employee’s permission before conducting the check. The information employers require will be the individual’s:

  • Full name
  • Nationality
  • Date of birth
  • Home address
  • Job title
  • Contracted hours
  • Home Office reference number (or their case ID)

Employers must ask the Home Office to check an existing or future employee cannot show their documents. If the person in question shows they have the proof of right to work in the UK, the Employer Checking Service will administer a Positive Verification Notice. This essentially provides employers with a 6-month statutory excuse, from the date it is issued.


A Right to Work Check Post-COVID-19

Once the COVID-19 measures have ceased, employers should ensure they carry out a retrospective right to work checks on existing employees who have:

  • Begun working for an organisation after 30th March 2020
  • Worked long enough so that a follow-up check is required

The retrospective right to work check should be carried out within 8 weeks of all COVID-19 measures ending.


Why are Right to Work Checks Important?

Failing to ensure that your employees have the right to work in the UK is against the law. If a person has a restriction on the type of work they can do or the number of hours they can work, you must not employ them in a role which breaches these terms.

The Home Office can issue severe penalties on your organisation, or the people responsible for administering the correct right to work procedures. Fines can be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds for employing illegal workers, and prison sentences can be dealt to particular offenders of the rules. 

You can read all about the statistics and repercussions that companies who employ illegal workers have suffered. This is why it’s essential you know exactly who you are hiring. 


Right to Work Help

Here at Eurocom CI, we are here to make all the necessary checks you require for staff, as stress-free, efficient and discreet as possible. We aim to conduct all checks you require (not just right to work, but also ID verification, address history, property ownership and even bulk DBS checks), so you can focus on your business. We will conduct all relevant checks using our user-friendly, intuitive software portals, which give you control and visibility.

All checks are carried out responsibly, respecting the current measures implemented by the government. If you want to find out more about how we can help, please get in touch with Eurocom CI today.