Employers will be able to conduct digital right to work checks in the UK via a new permanent system in April, but there are concerns it will be unaffordable for some firms.
Since the pandemic struck in March 2020, organisations have been able to carry out digital checks of a person’s right to work in the UK, rather than having to check physical documents.
The regime was initially a temporary measure, but following numerous extensions and support from employers and recruitment bodies, the Home Office has made the change permanent. This helped employers place workers in roles quickly and easily, especially when working remotely.
The Home Office said that it “recognises the benefits the adjusted checking process has brought and [is] mindful of the shift towards increased hybrid and remote working models”.
Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) chief executive Neil Carberry said: “We are delighted that the digital system for checking someone’s right to work in the UK will be a permanent fixture from April 2022. Recruiters have told us throughout the pandemic that this system is quicker and easier, reducing the time it takes them to get candidates into work while increasing levels of compliance and helping to keep staff safe during the pandemic.”
Right to work
From 6 April 2022 employers will be able to use government-certified identification document validation technology (IDVT) to check British and Irish citizens’ right to work.
However, the REC said that the system must be affordable for all, not just the largest firms, as a Home Office policy paper published last week states that the cost of using the new system will have to be met by employers. This could vary from £1.45 to £70 per check, the REC claimed.
These costs will only apply to checks conducted on UK nationals, as organisations will continue to be able to use existing free online services for overseas candidates. The REC said this could disadvantage UK jobseekers where firms are looking to save on costs.
“With recruiters placing a million temporary workers into roles every day, a system that charges pounds per check will be unsustainable for smaller firms,” said Carberry. “Every week, hundreds of thousands of checks are undertaken – at that scale, it should be easy to make the process low-cost. This will be a key priority for the REC in the months to come.”
The Home Office said that using IDVT will allow job candidates to upload images of their documents instead of presenting physical documents to a prospective employer.
It said that the system for digital checks will “help to support long-term post pandemic working practices, accelerate the recruitment and onboarding process, improve employee mobility and enhance the security and integrity of the checks”.
Until the system is launched, employers must follow current right to work checks guidance.