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5 reasons why identity document checks are an essential part of the pre-employment process

Illustration showing a woman on her phone for an identity check to prove compliance

If you work in HR or are responsible for recruiting staff, you will know that complying with Right to Work legislation remains essential and legislation isn’t getting any simpler. Combined with continued enforcement, this puts more pressure on UK employers to get Right to Work checks for potential employees right.

But checking whether someone has a legal right to work in the UK should only be undertaken once a potential employee’s identity has been reliably confirmed. Checking identity documents, such as passports, are a first essential step. Here’s why:

1. Right to Work checks are irrelevant if the documents used to support their identity are forged.

Checking a potential employee’s Right to Work is time consuming and therefore can be costly. And so are all subsequent activities such as reference checks. Before you do anything, make sure you’re as confident as possible that the person is who they say they are by confirming whether their identity documents are authentic.

2. Being clear up-front about your identity document checking process is likely to put off people relying on false documentation.

Whether you are manually or electronically checking documents, in our experience, advertising the fact that your organisation conducts robust identity checks will reduce the number of applications from people who intend to use fake identities.

3. Having a process of checking documents that support identity shows your organisation is acting responsibly.

Making identity checks correctly is critical, as is proving that you have done it! With the Immigration Act putting even more emphasis on checking Right to Work, the onus is on employers to have a clear, reliable and auditable process. Failure to do so could result in substantial fines.

If every effort has been made to comply with current legislation and there is a history of proof, then this can be a defence against prosecution (statutory excuse) should someone without the correct documents slip through the net.

Illustration showing a woman on her phone for an identity check to prove compliance

4. Robust checks can prevent years of exposure to fraud.

Once an identity document has been accepted and you’ve employed a candidate, that person has access to different areas of your organisation, potentially putting your finances or security at risk. The issue goes beyond fraud though when you consider the total cost of employing and training a staff member and the cost of finding a replacement should a fraudulent employee be uncovered at a later stage. All this can be avoided at the outset with the proper checks in place.

5. Consistent and watertight checks reduce the potential for existing employees to knowingly employ those without the Right to Work.

With the proper processes in place, it becomes more difficult for existing staff to help those they know to gain employment even though they might not have the Right to Work in the UK. Every organisation must take responsibility for Right to Work checks to avoid fines and with your reputation to maintain, it’s crucial to adopt a transparent approach to pre-employment – starting with confirmation of identity.

There are a number of ways to check documents used to support identity.  Larger organisations and those who are recruiting large numbers of staff or working in ‘higher risk’ areas are increasingly using electronic identity scanning solutions. This technology automates their record keeping process and enables more sophisticated checks of visible and non-visible document data.

For more manual checks, staff may need guidance on what to look for when checking global identity documents. We have produced a handy guide to checking passports, which you are welcome to use. Please note that documents change over time and so you should always check the latest guidance.

Want to find out more?

Why not get in touch to find out how our identity document validation services could help with your Right to Work legislation and pre-employment check processes?

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