Right to Work Changes: A Backwards Step

Outline of Changes

A major announcement on Right to Work Checks was announced last week. As a response to the pandemic, the government relaxed the rules on what evidence could be accepted and the need for face-to-face contact. Scans of documents became acceptable, and video calls replaced meeting in person, making the process of completing a Right to Work a more remote one than it had ever been before.

However, it was announced last week that from May 17th, the rules will revert back to how they were before the pandemic – only original pieces of documentation will be accepted, and there will almost certainly be a need for face-to-face meetings.

A Backwards Step

The movement away from the remote process that is currently in place will have a massive impact on many businesses in many different sectors. The most obvious point is that businesses have done so much to adapt to remote processes, it seems counterproductive to ask them to make a complete U-Turn in how they complete their Right to Work checks at a time where money and resources are so tight.

It also seems a backwards step in the respect that conducting checks remotely streamlines and makes the process more efficient, with scans proving simple to verify and saving valuable time by cutting out unnecessary face-to-face meetings, as well as waiting times for original copies of documents to arrive. The technology is in place and we know it works – let’s keep using it.

Waiting for original documents is also more complicated than it was before due to the continuing uncertainties and ambiguities caused by Brexit. With potentially more hoops to jump through than before for many, it seems the government is getting caught behind by not keeping as much of the process as possible remote.

The Home Office Right to Work online service is offering a service to fast-track certain Right to Work applications, and is worth checking out, but this is limited to certain Visas and status types (it does not include UK nationals, for example), and will not help many candidates and business complete their Right to Work Checks any faster.

The Future

The one overriding positive that has come out of these temporary changes is that businesses have seen the benefits of conducting their pre-employment compliance checks remotely. While the Right to Work checking process has been excluded from this trend for the time being, it is quite possible that businesses will keep doing a lot of their pre-employment compliance and onboarding checks remotely even when we are living our normal lives again.

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