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Home Office U-turn on coronavirus right to work checks

Home Office U-turn on coronavirus right to work checks

As far as odd decisions go, it was up there with the best. The Home Office announced on 20 April that its concession to enable employers to conduct right to work checks virtually — for the safety of their workforce during the pandemic — was to be scrapped from 17 May. 

Let’s make HR staff and employees go into the office for no other reason at all than to conduct right to work checks. 

Let’s do this despite the fact that the government’s own guidance says that “from 17 May: you should continue to work from home if you can”.

And let’s also do it despite the fact that the right to work of many non-UK workers can now be checked online anyway; manual checks involve dragging mainly British citizens into the office to have their British passport examined.

Thankfully someone in the senior echelons of the Home Office has seen sense and a hastily announced update (i.e. a U-turn) has been published today. Virtual right to work checks are now allowed up to and including 20 June rather than 16 May. This aligns with step 4 on the “roadmap out of lockdown” for England rather than step 3.

There’s no apology to employers who will have made arrangements to get their HR teams and others safely into the office to conduct in-person (if socially distanced) right to work checks in four days’ time. Such arrangements can now be reversed.

We’ll update our coronavirus page with the new deadline for resuming in-person checks shortly.

Nichola heads the immigration team at Carter Thomas (www.carterthomas.co.uk). A lawyer with 20 years' experience, she also sits on The Law Society’s Immigration Committee. Nichola's main work relates to advising businesses, universities and schools on sponsor applications and compliance, and individuals seeking to come under the Global Talent, family and other routes . She regularly provides media comment including for the BBC and FT and is happy to be contacted for comment. Nichola tweets from @carternichola and her email is ncarter@carterthomas.co.uk.

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