Government extends covid ‘adjusted’ right to work checks until October

The government has extended covid ‘adjusted’ Right To Work checks until October 1st 2022.

Announced on Tuesday, the extension means contractors’ engagers can continue to hire in the same way that most of them have done since the pandemic hit in March 2020.

The extension avoids the ‘cliff-edge’ of April 6th 2022, as until now that was when engagers had to either go live with a new ‘IDVT’ system, or revert to in-person checks.

'Time for IDVT provider certification' 

“Industry now has 7.5 months to implement this important change properly…[by which time a] good number of Identity Documentation Validation Technology providers [should be] certified,” said Reed director Keith Rosser.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies also welcomed the extension, which the government said it was making following “positive feedback” about digitising Right to Work (RTW) checks permanently.

“The extension will allow [recruitment agencies] enough time to develop commercial relationships with identity service providers, make the necessary changes to their pre-employment checking processes ,and carry out responsible on-boarding of their chosen provider,” the association said.

'Problematic transition period'

APSCo’s Tania Bowers believes that without the extension, “there was the chance for a problematic transition period where recruitment firms and employers could no longer use the Covid checking processes, but also wouldn’t be ready to use a permanent digital solution.”

The government said in January that RTW via video calling software would not be permitted past April 2022.

But stopping engagers from using the likes of Teams while not being IDVT-ready would have “led to an increase in time-to-hire, and exclusion from the marketplace for candidates who aren’t able to complete a face-to-face RTW check,” says APSCo’s Ms Bowers.

'Too risky'

Online, a staffing manager at infrastructure giant Balfour Beatty, Reinette Charteris, was among those asking why the covid ‘adjusted’ checks can’t just be made permanent.

“The Home Office have said the online, temporary adjusted check [process] is too risky and exposed to fraud, so it has to be replaced by a secure, online system,” answered Mr Rosser.

“A good outcome for industry would be for us to help influence a positive digital solution that enables companies to keep hiring remotely forever, but builds a bit more security in.”

'Ironing out'

Yet as chair of the Better Hiring Institute, Mr Rosser also says that other issues “need ironing out,” including that one in five job-seekers won’t be able to use a digital route – even from October.

Fragomen reflected: “From October 1st, 2022 where the online right to work check system is not available, it is expected that employers will need to conduct right to work checks by checking the employee’s original documents where either they are British or Irish and do not have a valid passport, or for other nationals where their immigration document remains in paper format."

The law firm added in an advisory: “All checks must be completed in the presence of the employee, either in person or via a video call. Updated guidance for employers to use is expected to be published ahead of September 30th.”

'Remote working'

Until then, the covid ‘adjusted’ RTW checking process conducive to “lockdowns and remote working” will continue, advises employment solicitor Emma Bagshaw.

“Employers are currently permitted to accept copy documents, where authenticated with a video call,” Ms Bagshaw posted after the announced extension, due to apply until “September 30th inclusive,” the government said.

Under the adjusted check system, candidates are expected to hold up their original documents during the video call to the camera, so they can be compared against the digital copies.

Once satisfied the worker’s documents match, the engager is meant to write – still, and despite the pandemic abating, “Adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to covid-19.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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