As the novel Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) prompts such workplace responses as “work from home” arrangements, lockdowns and “skeleton crew” operations, among others, employers in countries that require right to work (RTW) validation are facing logistical challenges in onboarding new employees. Authorities in some countries permit the employer to designate a responsible adult to serve as the employer’s agent for purposes of an in-person review of RTW documentation submitted by the new employee. Others allow for the review of scanned documents to be followed by the standard in-person review when operations return to normal. Still others have created government-administered online portals for purposes of validating certain specified RTW documents.
The following is a sampling of practical approaches employers can adopt to fulfill RTW validation requirements remotely during the current pandemic. In all instances where employers adopt such temporary measures, documenting the actions to be taken, aligning the remote process with country-specific requirements, and addressing permissible actions once offices reopen, such as a follow-up in person review of RTW documents, are prudent measures. The maintenance of a record that clearly explain the need for and propriety of the temporary RTW measure is similarly important to prepare for the possibility of an audit by government officials in future.
|COVID-19: Temporary, Remote Right to Work Validation Methods|
|Approach||Countries Include||RTW Method||Rationale|
|Agent Option: Agent performs initial RTW check live, with employer on by video or audio||
Americas – e.g., US and Canada
Europe – e.g., multiple Schengen countries
Asia – e.g., Hong Kong, Australia
Agent is face to face with employee, with employer participating by video or audio
If video is not feasible, the employer should be on by audio (mobile phone), and the employee and agent can text photos of the documents
As a best practice, the employer should have a contractual agreement with the agent, with an express acknowledgement by the agent of compliance with the required RTW compliance
By participating by video-link (e.g., FaceTime, Skype), the employer can direct the process, verify the new hire’s identity, and review the RTW documents real time
The employer can also support the agent, ensuring that documentation complies with the host country’s RTW regulation
|Virtual Option: Employee sends RTW and identity documents via scan or mobile photo for initial review||Certain countries that discourage use of agents (e.g., UK, Ireland)||Employer reviews scanned RTW documents real time (aligned with the regulatory deadline), with video review if available, and option for in-person interview after offices reopen||
Scan or mobile photos of all documents sent to employer by employee, with face-to-face review following when offices reopen
Employee may bring original documents to office at that time
|Portal Option: Some countries offer online portals or other government-hosted tools for use by certain categories of employees||Australia (i.e., online VEVO check), Singapore (i.e., SGWorkPass App), and United Kingdom (i.e., online right to work service)||Government online portals may offer a full validation of RTW for certain categories, but the rules for any portal are very specific to the jurisdiction||
Typically, only specific categories of foreign workers (e.g., UK Biometric Residence Permit holders) may be validated via government Portals
In the US, the government Portal, E-Verify, is not a substitute for the required employer review
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