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Introduction

The Home Office has issued and implemented temporary immigration measures to help migrants and businesses navigate through the COVID-19 crisis in the U.K. The various impacts of COVID-19 on the migrant workforce are presenting many legal and logistical challenges for businesses and their employees.


Here are the responses we have prepared for questions frequently asked by business stakeholders and migrant employees. The information below covers only right to work compliance matters. For guidance in relation to UK immigration compliance matters please refer to our ‘UK Immigration FAQs’. If you would like guidance in relation to other aspects such as social security, tax, or employment, please visit this link

Right to work - FAQ 

As a reminder, an employer should carry out right to work checks on any potential employee before they commence work, regardless of whether they are UK nationals or from overseas. Carrying out a Right to Work check correctly protects an employer in the event of a worker being found to be ‘illegal’. The penalty for employing an illegal worker is £20,000 per individual and possible criminal sanctions.

The Home Office issued updated guidance on 30 March 2020. The guidance is available here. Importantly, some amendments and concessions have been made relating to the requirement to see original physical documents.

Having reviewed the latest Home Office guidance, where offices are partially/ fully closed or where individuals are working from home, UK employers should consider the following options:

(a) Conduct online right to work checks where this is possible

Employers are able to rely on the online Right to Work Checking Service if an individual holds one of the following:

  • Biometric Residence Permit
  • Biometric Residence Card
  • Status under the EU Settlement Scheme

The service works on the basis of the individual first viewing their own Home Office right to work record. They then provide a ‘share code’ to their employer to access the information.

The individual employee link is here: https://www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-work

The employer link is here: https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-work

Employers will need to be satisfied that the photograph on the online right to work check is of the individual presenting themselves for work.

Employers may also be able to use the Employer Checking Service in some circumstances. This is usually used where the right to work check is required for an existing employee who has not yet received a decision on their immigration application. You may wish to see if it is possible to utilise this service for situations where you cannot perform the usual right to work check here due to the current circumstances.

(b) Physical documents: a concession and new process

The need for employers to see physical original documents has been suspended. If employers cannot use any of the options mentioned at point a above, as of 30 March 2020, employers can conduct right to work checks in the following way:

  • The employee can provide a scan or photo of their original document via email or a mobile app;
  • The employer will need to arrange a video call with the employee. The employee will hold up the original document to the camera. The employer will have to check the document shown in the camera against the copy provided via e-mail or mobile app.
  • The right to work check should be recorded as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”
  • The Home Office will update its guidance once these concessionary measures have ended.
  • Employers will then have 8 weeks from the end of the concessionary measures to conduct a follow up right to work check, which must adhere to the usual requirements, using physical original documents, where appropriate. A full list of acceptable documents can be found here.

Please note that this information is subject to change in line with Home Office guidance which is frequently updated.

Contact us

For additional information or assistance, please contact your local Legal services team* or one of the following professionals with the KPMG International member firm in the United Kingdom.

The KPMG Legal Services – Immigration Team has a wealth of experience in transactional, advisory, and compliance assurance services. We will be able to advise your business in relation to practical considerations in light of the above changes, as well as what this means for your long-term recruitment and compliance strategies.

KPMG LLP is a multi-disciplinary practice authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number: 615423).