Almost half of businesses are unprepared for changes to right to work checks coming in on 1 October, according to a survey by digital identity company Xydus.
The company, which is on the government’s list of certified identity service providers (IDSPs), found that 48% of businesses were unprepared for the new arrangements, which require employers who wish to check someone’s right to work digitally to do so using Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT).
This replaces adjusted right to work checks that were put in place during the Covid pandemic, allowing employers to check documentation over video rather than in person.
Employers that do not follow the new guidance could face civil penalties of up to £20,000 per worker or even a custodial sentence if they are found to have employed an illegal worker without the right checks.
Although many are unprepared for the changes, 96% are aware of them, Xydus found. More than three-quarters (78%) were not aware they could face jail if non-compliant.
Right to work changes
There are also a number of misconceptions around the correct right to work documentation. Seventy-two percent thought driving licences were compliant for right to work checks, despite this never being the case.
Xydus also found that a large proportion of employers believe the adjusted right to work arrangements will continue, with 37% claiming candidates could submit photos via email and 30% believing checks can continue over video calls.
Almost a third thought loyalty cards and library cards were valid forms of identification, according to Xydus.
A high number of businesses thought they could conduct right to work checks after an employee’s start date. In finance 46% of companies thought this to be the case, 41% in healthcare, and 38% in manufacturing.
Cost could be a barrier to embracing digital right to work checks, with 43% of retailers saying they could not afford it, and 27% of decision makers in HR and finance saying they lacked the IT capabilities to implement digital identity checks.
Manual checks where the employer checks an applicant’s documentation in person will still be accepted. Businesses employing foreign nationals with biometric residence cards, biometric resident permits or frontier work permits will be able to conduct an online right to work check via the government’s Employer Checking Service.
Xydus CEO Russell King said: “The list of potential consequences for getting digital Right to Work checks wrong is worrying many UK businesses.
“This research reinforces what we’ve seen and heard for quite some time, that many businesses still have a wide knowledge gap on the details and implications of these major changes in RTW legislation. It is not too late, there are easy-to-adopt options for UK employers who now need to introduce digital identity checks.”