The government has confirmed that digital right to work checks will now be a permanent option for employers. Initially allowed as a temporary measure during the pandemic, the efficiencies offered by digital checks has brought pressure on the government to formalise them. However, there have been concerns that this type of system would not be as secure as in-person verification.
Online right to work (RTW) checks were brought in to ease working from home requirements during pandemic lockdowns, enabling workers to remotely upload copies of personal documents rather than having to have them verified in person.
The benefits of digital checks are enormous, particularly for temporary workers who must have their identity verified by each new employer. Efficiencies include:
- In-person identity checks are more time consuming and require commuting for both the staff undertaking the check, and also the jobseeker;
- Fraudulent documents are very sophisticated and therefore difficult to spot;
- If the jobseeker and employer cannot meet for a face to face ID check, then documents have to be sent via courier/post which is not secure;
- Many businesses are decentralised and moving towards hybrid working, so there is a question regarding where to send documents through the post;
- Face to face ID checks limit the freedoms of jobseekers who can only work in their local area in order to get their ID checked.
The Home Office will now enable employers to use certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out digital identity checks on their behalf. The technology is also designed to remove human error in terms of identifying fraudulent documents or inaccuracies.
Using the new digital system will incur costs, estimated to be up to £70 per check, and the Home Office says this will have to be paid by employers. Given that the recruitment industry place up to 1 million temporary workers every day, these costs will be significant.
Furthermore, the fees will only apply to RTW checks conducted on UK nationals; for foreign nationals, employers can continue to use the existing free online checking service for overseas candidates. This means that the two tier outcome that we’ve previously warned about will remain, i.e. UK jobseekers could be disadvantaged.
Putting the cost factor aside the new system should allow jobseekers to be placed into roles much more quickly and efficiently than previously. Relevant changes to legislation will come into effect from April 2022.