All businesses in the UK, regardless of organisation size or sector, must ensure that every employee has the Right to Work in the UK. This means seeing and checking relevant identity documents in the presence of the holder. This can be a physical presence or via a live video link. In both cases, you must be in physical possession of the original documents.
However, the number of people attempting to using fake identity documents to illegally gain employment continues to grow. What’s more, if you employ someone who has no Right to Work in the UK or who is using a fake identity, the consequences can be very serious for your business, your employees, your customers and your reputation.
Making a robust, consistent identity check is the critical first step in a Right to Work process – to ensure the person you’re hiring is who they say they are and that they have the correct evidence of their Right to Work in the UK.
Right to Work
The law on preventing illegal working is set out in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and the Immigration Act 2016. This legislation covers the penalties for those found guilty of employing someone who they knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the Right to Work in the UK. This includes, for example, if you had any reason to believe that their identity documents were incorrect or false.
Sanctions include a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and, in serious cases, a criminal conviction carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years and an unlimited fine.
THERE ARE THREE STEPS THAT EMPLOYERS MUST FOLLOW TO CONFIRM AN EMPLOYEE HAS THE RIGHT TO WORK IN THE UK
- Request all relevant Right to Work documents
- Validate the documents in the presence of the holder
- Copy the documents, record the date of the check and store them securely
As an employer, making checks correctly means ensuring that all documents you see are genuine, original and unchanged and belong to the person who has given them to you.
Most employees will present legal and valid documentation. However, ensuring compliance with Right to Work legislation may be challenging for your organisation, particularly if you have a high turnover of staff or see employees with many different global identity documents.
In addition, illegal documents continue to be manufactured by professional fraudsters, some to a very high standard, which makes them hard to identify. These counterfeit documents are used by criminals to fraudulently apply for jobs or gain access to the services provided by your organisation.
Identity document validation technologies (IDVT) can quickly and easily assist you to authenticate documents which are presented for identity verification purposes, including for example, passports, Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) and identity cards.
Electronic identity document validation for Right to Work
Knowing that the documents you’re seeing are genuine and being presented by their legitimate holder is a critical first step in any Right to Work process. However, without significant and on- going training, staff may not easily be able to judge whether an identity document is genuine.
The Home Office recognises the important role that IDVTs can play in preventing the use of fraudulent documentation.
Identity document validation technologies (IDVT) are forms of technology that can quickly and easily assist you to establish the authenticity of documents presented for identity verification purposes, including passports, biometric residence permits, driving licences and identity cards
With IDVT, it takes just a few seconds to capture an identity document, using a secure web interface, App on your smartphone or ID scanner. Advanced scanning features capture security information, both visible and non-visible, that is difficult for counterfeiters to correctly imitate, such as the algorithmic data printed in the Machine-Readable Zone (MRZ) and data held within the document’s chip. This makes identity validation technology highly effective when compared to a visual inspection by staff with limited training in examining documents.
Electronic identity verification is increasingly being used to validate documents presented to assert and prove identity for Right to Work across the private sector, including in recruitment, retail, facilities management, hospitality and security, as well as across many NHS Trusts.
Depending on their level of in-house Right to Work knowledge and resources, an organisation may choose a straight-forward identity document validation service which confirms the authenticity of the identity document or may prefer to outsource the entire Right to Work process.
The benefits of IDVT for Right to Work checks
Your organisation is required to see an original document or combination of documents from the approved list: (Full list here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checklist).
As a minimum, staff should then check that the person claiming to own them resembles the photographs on the documents and examine them for any signs of forgery or counterfeiting, including:
All documents provided must also be copied and stored either electronically or in hard copy along with a record of the date on which a check was made. Copies of the documents should be kept securely for the duration of the individual’s employment and for a further two years after they stop working for you.
This check, copy and store process can be handled either manually or electronically.
With manual checking, front line staff bear the burden of a drawn-out administrative process. They need to first ensure that they ask to see all the correct documentation. Then they must visually determine the validity of identity documents. You need to provide regular training updates to help identify revised identity documents and ensure that they are up to date with changing Right to Work legislation. Any manual check puts responsibility for making the right decision onto your staff.
The introduction of an IDVT adds a ‘filter’ and helps the user decide how to handle a document or an applicant. With electronic scanning technology, a quick, single, consistent process helps users validate documentation or highlight any anomalies.
A validation system can provide a response on the validity of the document in just a few seconds, which may be particularly beneficial in high volume environments. Some electronic document scanning providers also provide investigative support when you identify any anomalies with a document and cross-check documents with external database of known counterfeit and fraudulently obtained genuine (FOG) documents for additional peace of mind.
A Right to Work service may then include a ‘human step’ with Right to Work experts processing validated identity documents to ensure they are the right combination of documents to prove the holders’ Right to Work in the UK.
Key assumptions, dependencies and resources
It is assumed that an IDVT will prove significantly more effective when compared to a basic visual inspection by a person with no or limited training in examining documents.
Your organisation should consider the purpose served by the technology, the volume of checks required and the level of knowledge of fraudulent documents and Right to Work expertise amongst staff. You should weigh this against any purchase, implementation, training and ongoing costs
Electronic validation solutions can be set up within an hour, with just a few minutes of training enough to get staff up to speed and using the application. If your organisation chooses an online validation service, they don’t need to purchase any additional hardware to support the checks.
Why not download this guide?
If your organisation is currently reviewing Right to Work software or your internal processes, please download a .pdf version of this guide.
Tony Machin, CEO
Our CEO since 2013 has led our business through a program of significant upgrades in technology and services and has huge experience helping businesses introduce the right processes for identity document checks.
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