Firms welcome further delay to in-person right to work checks

But business groups also call for longer-term review of recruitment practices as digital screening is extended to the end of August

A further delay to the reintroduction of in-person right to work checks has been welcomed by businesses.

Updated guidance released by the Home Office last week said digital right to work checks – introduced as a temporary measure at the start of the pandemic to support businesses to work remotely – would be extended until the end of August.

Employers will now be required to resume in-person checks from 1 September.

In a statement to City AM, a Home Office spokesperson said this latest postponement was because of the “benefits the adjusted checks have brought employers”, and that the Home Office was “reviewing whether there are changes we can make to the right to work scheme to increase the digital checking aspects, including through the use of specialist technologies”.

This is the second time the reintroduction of in-person checks has been pushed back. In-person checks were initially billed to be brought back in May, however after lobbying from business groups this deadline was pushed back to today (21 June) to bring them in line with when the government had hoped to end the last remaining lockdown restrictions in England.

This latest delay has been welcomed by Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), which lobbied the government to postpone in-person checks.

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The REC had estimated more than 300,000 new job starts per week could be delayed if the Home Office had not continued digital checks after the final stage of unlocking was delayed until 19 July at the earliest.

“This is a sensible decision that will keep the jobs market moving,” Carberry said. “We’re pleased the government has listened, and we look forward to working with the Home Office on the next logical step – a permanent digital system.”

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) had also called for an urgent extension of remote right to work checks in a letter to the home secretary before the postponed deadline was announced.

Speaking to People Management, Chetal Patel, partner at Bates Wells, said HR professionals needed to be aware of these latest changes to avoid “falling foul of the guidance”.

This extension also provided an opportunity for organisations to “remain agile”, said Patel, recommending firms review their current onboarding processes to make the most of this extension. “Can any right to work checks be conducted now for new hires in the pipeline for September?” Patel said.

She added that some of her clients had used this as an opportunity to fully review their recruitment practices, from checking the questions asked as part of an initial application at the screening stage to the wording in offer letters and employment contracts.