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How will the right to work in the UK change in 2022?

Written by
Chander Bagga, Valens Solicitors
Date of Publication:
25 January 2022

The individuals who have the right to work in the UK has changed since the Brexit agreement came into effect, and we are likely to see some of the biggest impacts of this over the next year. That means that how people come into the country and the checks that they are subject to could be facing an overhaul, so here we take a look at how the right to work in the UK is likely to change in 2022.

For businesses who are looking to recruit new employees from overseas, there are a number of checks that need to be completed which show whether that person has the right to work in this country or not. These need to be done to ensure that they have the legal right to work here and that the company is compliant with all Home Office rules.

Digital checks

One of the big changes that we can expect to see is that right-to-work checks will now be conducted digitally. This follows a temporary measure designed to aid remote working through the pandemic, but it has now been decided to make this a permanent feature. Foreign nationals who hold biometric cards can show these through the Home Office's online service when applying for a job, meaning that they will no longer have to be there in person.

This should make the process of recruitment much easier as it will streamline the process and get people into roles faster. It should also help to reduce cases of fraud and remove the geographical barriers that the checks have traditionally created. Whilst this enhances compliance and keeps people safe, it is a cost which is expected to be funded by employers. This can cost as much as £70 each for documents from UK Nationals and could therefore hit smaller employers where it hurts.

Compliance auditing

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the process of compliance auditing was halted. However, this is now set to return as the Home Office resumes its checks for illegal working and immigration inspections. This means that businesses will need to ensure that their document checking procedures have been updated to be in line with the latest changes.

The online right to work checking service is only available to individuals with lawful status under the EU settlement scheme or the points-based system, or for those with biometric residence permits or cards. For all others, employers will need to revert back to checking original documentation, instead of accepting scanned or digital copies.

Employers will be required to meet the new employee in person on the first day to check that the photograph on the check is the correct person. However, corrected checks will not need to be conducted retrospectively for the time during the pandemic.

EU settlement scheme

Until now, EU workers have been able to present a valid passport or national identity card to prove their eligibility to work. This is set to change from July 2022 when the employer will be given evidence of the individual's status under the EU settlement scheme or proof of a valid visa.

The right to work process will change this year, with some of it designed to phase out the measures that were put in place to accommodate the difficulties of the pandemic.

The Home Office is now concentrating on removing these and returning to what they consider to be the normal way of working. This will be something that employers need to be fully aware of to ensure that they do not break any laws, but staggered transition periods mean that it should be a gradual process which is easier to get to grips with.