Anecdotal evidence has shown us over the years that right to work checks are and continue to be problematic for migrant workers and racialised communities. Often checks have been carried out discriminately singling out workers of an ethnic background, and employers rarely understand the variety of immigration documents that an individual can possess.
This has been compounded by an online checking service offered by the Home Office which has been identified as holding incorrect information. Some of the identified issues include the system showing someone else’s status, wrongly showing someone’s status as pending when it had already been granted or showing an error message instead of their status. This has resulted in job offers being revoked, and contracts terminated.
Now, changes have been implemented since 6 April 2022, where it will no longer be possible for migrants with a biometric residence card or permit and EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status to prove their right to work or rent in the UK using physical documents. Alongside this, the Home Office will no longer issue biometric residence cards or permits to new visa/residency holders. This significant change to the law (without parliamentary scrutiny) now requires migrants to prove their right to work and rent through digital means only
Recent regulations have extended the requirement to prove immigration status only via digital means for right to work and rent purposes for EU citizens with pre-settled and settled status to all non-Irish migrants in the UK.
A digital only system will continue to create real risks of harm – discrimination, security, and further risks for those who are digitally excluded. Some of the identified issues include the system showing someone else’s status, wrongly showing someone’s status as pending when it had already been granted or showing an error message instead of their status. Reliance on a digital system and the lack of a physical document to evidence status is already causing anxiety among EU citizens, as well as creating discrimination, wrongful denial of access to services, and delays for those communities.
These changes are part of the government’s wider agenda to build a vast digital infrastructure of surveillance at every stage of migrants’ lives, alongside a general expansion of police and immigration officials’ surveillance powers. All migrants’ privacy, data security and safe access to vital support and welfare services are at serious risk from the application of this digital surveillance system.
What we are doing
So, we want to ensure that migrant workers and their representatives are fully aware of the rules, and their rights when these checks are undertaken.
That’s why MRN partnered with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to produce a guide to help trade union reps better understand the new right to work checks process. This will enable them to better inform and support their migrant members and colleagues when they need it, and also aims to set a standard for representation.
If you would like to arrange us to deliver a workshop to share more details on the right to work checks, please contact [email protected]
We also want to gather evidence of when right to work checks for racialised communities, biometric residence permit and card holders, have led to wrongful dismissal or discrimination. So, if you have been affected, please get in contact with us at [email protected]
For those who want to find out what their rights are in relation to their personal data, and how they can control it, there is a digital rights section under MRN’s Know Your Rights resources – please click here