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Return to physical Right to Work checks delayed

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The UK government has pushed back the reintroduction of physical Right to Work checks to 21 June 2021.

The temporary measures were originally due to end earlier on 16 May, however, recruitment organisations including the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) urged the government to extend it.

The APSCo argued the return to physical checks was being left too late and would have a significant impact on the recruitment process for the remainder of the pandemic.

Tania Bowers, APSCo’s legal counsel and head of public policy, said the short deadline for the return to in-person checks was a real concern "given that we are expecting the government ‘work from home if you can’ advice to remain in place into June".

Bowers said: “Introducing face-to-face checks when people are still working remotely is simply unworkable.”

Shazia Ejaz, campaigns director at the REC, said it welcomed the government’s decision to delay in-person checks.

He said: "This is a big win for recruiters, it allows them to continue with digital checks while social distancing is still in place.

"We 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."

While prime minister Boris Johnson has reportedly said the guidance for people to work from home will also be dropped on 21 June, Aida Geragusian, senior associate in the employment team at Norton Rose Fulbright, said many employers still plan on implementing remote working beyond June.

Therefore, Geragusian said, the extension of physical Right to Work checks will be welcomed by employers.  

She said: “However, some office and site closures are in place until late summer despite the proposed easing of lockdown restrictions and social distancing.

“Employers will need to rethink their plans for continued remote working for some employees, or risk not having a statutory excuse in place if they continue to conduct remote Right to Work checks after the concession ends.”