Right to work checks: End of the COVID-19 concession from 17 May 2021

6th May 2021

The Government has announced that the usual methods of conducting manual right to work checks must resume on 17 May 2021 and the current concession which has been in place since 30 March 2020, permitting checks to be undertaken remotely using video calls, will be withdrawn.

Please note the end of the concession period has been extended by the UK Government, read more on this here.

From 17 May 2021 employers will have to carry out a manual check on an applicant’s original right to work documents, either at a face-to-face meeting or via a live video link, as long as the original document itself has been sent to the employer by post. Sending documents in the post, particularly a sensitive personal document is unlikely to be appealing to many applicants, which means a face-to-face meeting, which again, may be difficult for some applicants who continue to work from home or are self isolating.

The COVID-19 concession permitted the employer to conduct the right to work check using a video call after inspecting a scanned copy or photograph of the original document. Alternatively, the applicant’s right to work check can be carried out online, if appropriate (for example if they hold a Biometric Residence Permit or hold status under the EU Settlement Scheme).

The Government also warns that some individuals may struggle to show evidence of their right to work in the UK because of the pandemic. The guidance urges employers to:


Take extra care to ensure no-one is discriminated against as a job applicant or employee because they are unable to show their documents.

Many employers will have spent time adapting their right to work verification processes for the purposes of the concession and have now been given little notice to change their procedures. Many employees continue to work from home as offices are not open and employers may still be expecting Government advice to work from home where possible to continue until late June, when it is currently envisaged all lockdown restrictions will be lifted.

The only silver lining is that employers will not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020-16 May 2021 inclusive. Employers will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check undertaken during this time was done in the prescribed manner or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance.

Contact our immigration team for advice on right to work checks.

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