Due to the move back to physical right to work checks from the 17th May, the Association of Professional Staffing Companies have written a letter to Priti Patel, Home Secretary. 

After the announcement that right to work checks have been reverted back to in-person, the APSCo have warned Home Secretary, Priti Patel, that instating such a “short deadline” is a real concern for businesses.

In late April, companies were informed that right to work checks, made virtual during the pandemic, would be returning to in-person despite lockdown restrictions not being fully lifted.

As such, many trade bodies spoke out in favour of the digital checks which had been implemented over the past year, insisting that these would be well-suited for longer term use.

Now, APSCo have written to Ms. Patel to highlight their concerns about the short deadline and the decision to dispense with the COVID remote checks.

Tania Bowers, APSCo’s Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy, criticised the move to return to pre-pandemic ways of undertaking right to work checks when employees had not yet returned to offices:

The short deadline for the return to in person checks is a real concern given that we are expecting the Government ‘work from home if you can’ advice to remain in place into June – introducing face to face checks when people are still working remotely is simply unworkable.

In addition, Ms. Bowers laid out the expectation that the Home Office would choose to expand the use of digital checks which she described as “a process much more suitable for the modern world of flexible work”.

APSCo has outlined several major reasons as to why remote Right to Work checks should not be replaced during this time.

The body stated that returning to physical checks would “seriously hamper a modern, agile labour market” by enforcing location-based hiring. This suggests that this could undo the flexibility created during the pandemic which allowed candidates to apply for remote roles outside their immediate vicinity.

APSCo also stated that the move to physical checks could impede UK workers specifically. The body stated that there are existing online check services for both EU nationals and non-EU nationals which can be remote. However, the Passport Office has no online equivalent for UK nationals which disproportionately disadvantages UK workers.

The body also questioned the safety of this decision – both physically and in terms of preventing fraud. It stated that face to face checks mandates travel in order to provide physical documents at a time where COVID-19 guidance stipulates workers must continue to work from home if they can.

Additionally, it found that it could even go against intended aims of ensuring employees have the legal right to work in the UK. By utilising a people-based system instead of technology, the body states that people are not as effective at spotting fraudulent documents.

Ms. Bowers stated that this decision to move back to physical right to work checks were “disappointing” and said that failing to “retain flexibility” cultivated by the pandemic is not compatible with a hybrid working environment.