The COVID-19 pandemic has raised various immigration law issues for employers employing migrant workers in the UK. One key concern is how to carry out right to work checks in relation to both new employees recruited during the pandemic and existing employees whose immigration permission is coming up to expiry. 

Failure to conduct a right to check in accordance with Home Office guidance risks a fine of up to £20,000. Something employers can ill afford right now.

Right to work checks would normally be carried out in person by HR  or line managers, but this is clearly a challenge with employees working from home and the restrictions of social distancing.  

 In an effort to address this issue, the Home Office has recently implemented a number of temporary measures allowing right to work checks to be carried out via video calls and allowing employers to accept scanned documents or photos of documents. While this is helpful, many migrant workers may not have access to appropriate electronic devices to carry out videocalls or scan their documents to their employer.

Employers using the temporary measures must ensure that the quality of any copies/photos of documents obtained using electronic means is sufficiently clear - if the Home Office can't read the documents, you may be fined. It is hoped that the Home Office would adopt a pragmatic approach given the current circumstances, but employers are advised to err on the side of caution.