On 28 January 2019, the Home Office introduced a new online tool which enables employers to check the right to work of potential and current employees.
The Home Office had previously indicated they would digitise the right to work process for the benefit of employers examining identity documents and making sense of different types of visas.
However, this is not the case. The Home Office has instead introduced an additional method of obtaining a statutory excuse based upon an employee or potential employee undertaking and then sharing an online 'self-check' of their visa document. The candidate/employee will need to go online (https://www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-work) and enter his or her own Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) number and then share a link with the employer. The employer will then be able to access a webpage with the individual's photo and the details of his or her visa.
This system will run alongside the traditional right to work checks being undertaken and whilst the Home Office’s efforts to streamline and simplify their processes are always welcome, we would still advise employers to continue with the traditional checks for the following reasons:
- The new tool is for ‘List B’ employees only: Those familiar with making right to work checks will be aware of two lists: List A (those with no immigration restrictions upon their right to work) and List B (those with time-limited restrictions upon their right to work). However, the new tool only applies to List B individuals with a BRP only. It does not cover British, EEA or Swiss citizens at the moment.
- BRP holders only: In addition to being 'List B' the candidate/employee must also hold a BRP card. This will not necessarily be the case, particularly for migrants who entered the UK prior to the introduction of BRPs. Therefore, this new tool is not the ‘default’ system for all right to work checks. In fact, this system seems particularly aimed at employers with question marks over an employee’s status or those with an inability to see an employee's document prior to starting work.
When to use this service
- What this service does is ask an individual on a time-limited visa to type in their BRP number. The risk here is that an individual potentially enters the details of another person’s BRP and so this is why the service will present to the employer the registered photo of the holder of that BRP.
- The first use for this service will be for employers to check that the person they are looking to employ is the true visa holder. BRPs do carry a photo of the individual on their front, but the system will enable employers to see a much higher definition photo.
- The second use is for employers who would no longer need to copy the individual's document in his or her presence. Traditionally, the new starter would present his or her BRP and the employer would review it for authenticity and likeness and then copy it and retain the dated copy. The new system will not rely on the visa holder having their BRP for the first day. The check would be done beforehand and all the line manager need do is check the photograph, which could be emailed to them beforehand, for likeness of the individual.
This does not quite appear to be the service that many employers were expecting or hoping for given the additional right to work considerations which will be triggered by Brexit.
Our advice to employers is to generally maintain the traditional right to work checks that they are undertaking, and if there are any questions as to whether or not these checks are robust enough, to get in touch and speak to our experts.