Digital Right to Work Checks: What Employers Need to Know

In recent weeks, the UK government has declared certain changes regarding the right to work checks. Now, employers can check the employee’s eligibility to work in the nation digitally. 

Right to work checks are an important part of the procedure during the recruitment process. Ignoring them can lead the employer to pay a penalty of up to £20,000 for every illegal employee kept on the job. Additionally, businessmen are also liable for a custodial sentence if they employ a person without the right checks. 

Before the pandemic, the work check eligibility procedure was done in person. During the process, the prospective employee presented relevant documents as evidence. Then, the employer kept a copy of them with himself as a record. During covid, the same work used to be done through e-mails and video calls. 

The New Right to Work Process 

As per government standards, the temporary procedure that prevailed during the pandemic will last till the 30th of September 2022. In its place, an online right to work method will be brought into action. Although this change has already been introduced on 6th April 2022, it will be implemented from 1st October 2022. 

Identity Service Providers or IDSPs, are government-certified employer checking services that carry out digital right to work checks for Irish and British citizens with valid passports. IDSPs complete the task on the behalf of employees in exchange for a fee.  Here is how it is done:

  1. The process includes uploading a copy of the passport on the IDSP portal through Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT).
  2. The IDSP generates a report stating the authenticity of the document, which is then shared with the employer.
  3. The employer then retains that report and cross-checks it with the biometric & photo details of the person presented for work.
  4. After the employer is satisfied with all the crucial details, they record the same. If there are any errors or inconsistencies, the employer is required to resolve them.

Apart from IDVT, these service providers also provide services to employers such as business process technology products, know your customer software, and more.

Industry Reactions and What to do Next

According to IDSPs and the UK government, the previous method of digital checks was easy to manipulate. However, the new online right to work method is extremely safe.  The method offers greater protection against scams, high security of collected data, and reduced resource dedication of HR. It will also be more efficient in the onboarding of employees. 

According to a report prepared by Xydus, a digital identity company, about 96% of the employers are well aware of the new rules. And, about 78% of them were not aware of it all.  Not being aware and/or non-compliance could result in employers paying a hefty amount as a penalty. In fact, they could even be jailed if they fail to follow the same. 

Additionally, about 30%-37% of them still believed that the adjusted right to work checks will be continued as before; i.e., via mail and video calls. It’s clear that all employers need to be educated and informed that new rules are being implemented. If people want to employ any foreign nationals with BRPs, frontier work permits, and biometric resident permits must conduct a digital right to work check through any certified IDSPs.

With the new right to work check being implemented and employers getting ready to adjust to the new rules, it is also crucial to not completely rely on that. During this transition period, it is suggested they do a manual check with the original documents as well.