The Home Office has announced that the scrapping of temporary adjusted checks for employers to establish a candidate’s right to work in the UK has been deferred again, this time until 30 September 2022.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck organisations have been able to carry out video-based checks of a person’s right to work in the UK, rather than having to physically examine documents.
After numerous extensions to the end date of this temporary measure, the government announced in December that from 6 April 2022 employers will be able to use government-certified “identification document validation technology” (IDVT) for UK and Irish citizens’ right to work checks.
A statement from the Home Office said it made the decision to defer the date after feedback following its announcement enabling employers IDVT to carry out digital checks on British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport from 6 April 2022.
“Deferring the end date of the adjusted checks to 30 September 2022 ensures employers have sufficient time to develop commercial relationships with identity service providers, make the necessary changes to their pre-employment checking processes and carry out responsible on-boarding of their chosen provider,” it said.
Chetal Patel, partner at law firm Bates Wells said: “The extension of the deadline for adjusted temporary checks is positive for businesses, particularly those that are continuing to operate on a remote or hybrid basis. Today’s news will come as a relief to employers, as it means they will be able to speed up the hiring process and keep costs down. This is particularly important at a time when there are severe shortages of skilled workers.”
However she warned: “Employers shouldn’t simply sit back and relax – it’s prudent to ensure that their onboarding processes are fit for purpose.”
Patel’s colleague Aisha Choudhry, an associate at Bates Wells, added: “Given the ease with which businesses can carry out right to work checks via video calls, we would hope to see the government make these a permanent fixture.”
The Home Office said that the delay ensures that the right-to-work scheme continues to operate in a manner which supports employers to “implement long-term, post-pandemic working practices”. It also provides the opportunity for employers to return to face-to-face document checks if they do not wish to follow the IDVT route.
Tania Bowers, global public policy director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) said that it and other recruitment industry bodies were pleased their feedback had been taken on board.
“We initially raised our concerns with the Home Office and the Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Immigration in January, explaining that the short turn-around time wouldn’t allow employers to run an appropriate preferred supplier selection process to establish new relationships with IDVT certified providers,” she said.
“Without this extension, there was the chance for a problematic transition period where recruitment firms and employers could no longer use the Covid checking processes but also wouldn’t be ready to use a permanent digital solution, which would have only led to an increase in time to hire and exclusion from the marketplace for candidates who aren’t able to complete a face-to-face right-to-work check.”
APSCo added that it would continue to monitor the pricing of certified providers over the coming months, raising issues with the Home Office to ensure recruiters are not faced with unreasonable additional costs, unfair contract terms and extra administrative burdens when using the new digital process.
The Home Office’s employer guidance says that organisations will have to provide training and guidance to staff involved in arranging identity and right-to-work verification.
It says this training should cover, for example, what information they must obtain from the third-party to confirm a candidate’s identity; what the information can be used for; and what other requirements they still need to fulfil to establish eligibility to work.