Checking Right to Work Documents Whilst Hiring Remotely

Debra MacNeil

Covid-19 has changed just about every aspect of the way we do business. And it’s certainly changed the way you can recruit. Gone are the days of being able to interview a candidate in person, photocopy their documents and upload them into your CRM system.

With virtual (or video) interviews becoming “the new normal” for the foreseeable, many businesses are uncertain as to how to collect and store the vital candidate information they are required, by law, to have.

Despite the pandemic, it is still a legal requirement to ensure a candidate is who they say they are.

The UK government has made some changes to the way employers can legally collect documents from employees (whether they are contractors, temporary workers or permanent hires). As business practices have changed and candidates’ applications have moved online, having this process in place now is hugely important.

As of 30 March this year, employers can now check all documents by asking the candidate to hold them up on screen during video calls. You must make sure that you see the originals of these documents (i.e. not photocopies) and ensure the person on screen matches the documents given in the same way we would in person.

Documents that can be presented in this way include right to work, visas, proof of address etc. Copies, or screenshots, of these documents then need to be stored safely and securely as normal.

Employers still have a responsibility to ensure workers’ Right To Work does not expire while working by setting up reminders of visa expiry dates and requesting updated documents. A retrospective check on any documents sent through after 30 March 2020 must be carried out within eight weeks of all Covid-19 restrictions coming to an end, and in-person capabilities resuming.

If you are found to be employing someone illegally and you have not carried out the prescribed checks, you may face sanctions including:

  • a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker;
  • in serious cases, a criminal conviction carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years and an unlimited fine;
  • closure of the business and a compliance order issued by the court;
  • disqualification as a director;
  • not being able to sponsor migrants;
  • seizure of earnings made as a result of illegal working; and
  • review and possible revocation of a licence in the alcohol and late-night refreshment sector and the private hire vehicle and taxi sector

The HRC Compliance team, in partnership with our video interview software, Hinterview, are already successfully carrying out Right to Work checks via video calls. These are candidate friendly, simple to conduct and provide our clients with the correct documentation.

The UK government continue to update their Covid-19 advice in relation to Right to Work on this website. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the HRC Compliance team who would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

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