With ongoing staff shortages and challenges posed by new immigration requirements, veterinary practices employing or seeking to recruit staff from outside the UK should give consideration to the upcoming changes and how the new provisions will impact on their staffing arrangements.
Changes to right to work checks from 6 April 2022
The Home Office announced that from 6 April 2022, the right to work checks of those who hold a biometric residence card (BRC), biometric residence permit (BRP) or frontier worker permit (FWP) can only be done online. These changes are reflected in Appendix E of the Employer Right to Work Checks Supporting Guidance. Similar changes have also been announced in respect of right to rent checks.
From 6 April 2022, the right to work checks of those who hold a biometric residence card (BRC), biometric residence permit (BRP) or frontier worker permit (FWP) can only be done online
Currently, right to work checks can be conducted online or manually, but this will change on 6 April 2022. Up to and including 5 April 2022, employers can continue to conduct manual checks on physical cards for evidence of a right to work and cannot insist individuals use the online service. Employers can, however, ask individuals if they would like to use the online service.
How to carry out the check
To carry out the check, employers must have the individual’s date of birth and a valid right to work share code that the individual has generated by accessing the online system for individuals. The share code is valid for 30 days.
What should employers be thinking about?
It is vital that right to work checks are carried out correctly to establish a statutory defence should employers be found to be employing someone illegally. Therefore, employers should consider the following:
- Review internal right to work procedures. Employers should review internal right to work check processes, procedures and communications and ensure all staff conducting right to work checks are aware of the upcoming changes
- Consider retraining staff. Employers should ensure all staff who conduct right to work checks are conversant with the Home Office’s online right to work checking service and how to conduct the checks correctly, and the associated record keeping duties under “Appendix D: keeping documents – guidance for sponsors”
- Follow on checks. While retrospective checks are not required on individuals who have established their right to work using physical biometric cards, employers will need to conduct follow on checks before the expiry of a biometric card if the Home Office online service was not used for the initial right to work check. This is also of significance in respect of BRPs currently showing an expiry date of 31 December 2024, even where the visa holder’s actual grant of leave is after this date. The shorter date has been printed on BRPs because the current technology being used in the production of BRPs needs to be upgraded beyond this date. Employers may wish to consider, where possible and in agreement with its employee, carrying out an online right to work check now as it avoids the necessity to schedule a further follow-up check prior to the expiry of the BRP
COVID-19 temporary adjusted right to work checks
The COVID-19 temporary adjusted right to work checks are expected to end from 6 April 2022. We expect that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will make an announcement shortly.
The immigration rules underwent significant changes following Brexit, many of which were welcomed such as lowering the skill level and salary requirements and introducing tradable points for salary. Any employers looking to sponsor a migrant still need to hold a sponsor licence, and skilled workers are still required to score 50 points. UKVI also introduced a Health and Care Worker visa and while this does not extend to veterinarians, they are considered shortage occupation roles which means they attract a lower salary threshold and reduced UKVI fees.
UKVI also introduced a Health and Care Worker visa and while this does not extend to veterinarians, they are considered shortage occupation roles which means they attract a lower salary threshold and reduced UKVI fees
Most notably, changes occurred in respect of the recruitment of migrant workers. Under the previous Tier 2 visa category, employers looking to employ new hires were required to conduct a resident labour market test (for non-high earners) to ensure they did not displace any settled workers. There were also strict record keeping duties. Many employers found the exercise to be costly, lengthy and arduous.
Employers must be aware that they are still required to keep a record of any recruitment activity that was undertaken
Under the new Skilled Worker category, the formal resident labour market test has been done away with. However, employers must be aware that they are still required to keep a record of any recruitment activity that was undertaken. If advertising was not undertaken, employers must be able to explain how they recruited the worker as UKVI will want to assess whether the role is a genuine vacancy. Employers should refer to “Appendix D: keeping documents – guidance for sponsors” for full information on exactly what they must keep as part of their record keeping duties.