Right to Work checks in an ever-changing world.
For most traditionally ‘office-based’ employers, the last year has brought many unique challenges and has meant rapidly adapting to a new world of compliance with remote working and legislative uncertainty. Establishing candidates’ Right to Work (RtW), for example, has been a challenge as guidance evolves post-Brexit and the traditional method of face-to-face meetings and visual checks on original identity documents hasn’t been possible. But, as has been said, ‘adversity breeds creativity’. New and innovative technology, designed to overcome the problems of remote recruitment, can bring advantages to employers and help smooth uncertainty over post-Brexit employment checks.
Right to Work checks in the Covid era.
Prior to the pandemic, employers could conduct compliant RtW checks remotely if they could obtain an applicant’s original identity document and check it with the candidate ‘present’ over a video link, or if the individual had a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or EU Settlement scheme (EUSS) ‘share code’. However, over the past year, getting to see original documentation has become more difficult and clearly not everyone has a BRP or EUSS share code. So, the UK government has introduced temporary guidance which allows employers to check a candidate’s RtW using scanned copies or photos of identity documents. You can then arrange a video call and ask the applicant to hold up the original documents to check against the digital copy, record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to Covid-19.”
Although there is no end date set yet for these temporary measures, the guidance states that once they do come to an end, employers will have an 8-week window to carry out the required checks of original documents.
However, with the number of fake documents in circulation increasing, making reliable checks and preventing fraudsters from slipping through the net isn’t easy. In the past year, our analysis showed that our customers saw fake identity documents claiming to represent 52 different nationalities. (read the full statistics here). We know that while the updated guidance makes a remote checking process easier, many employers may not be confident checking documents without being able to touch and see original documents and may also be relying on a dispersed team with minimal document training. So, remote checking can also mean an inconsistent, uncertain and less robust process when recruiting staff.
Brexit and beyond.
Covid-19 isn’t the only issue affecting RtW checks today: the post Brexit world has also raised challenges. The Home Office has not yet published full details on how to check RtW of EEA nationals not on the EUSS after 30th June 2021 although we do know that employers will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as evidence and should instead ask applicants not on the EUSS to provide an appropriate visa. (Read the adjusted guidance here).
This lack of absolute clarity is understandably causing some concern and we’re being approached by a growing number of employers for advice on remaining complaint as guidance changes.
Why consider electronic checking to support your RtW processes?
How you choose to carry out identity checks will depend on your processes, internal skills and the perceived level of risk in your sector. For example, if you’re employing a high volume of temporary staff, particularly in a sector like construction, your risk of seeing fake identity documents is relatively high. TrustID customers working with the construction sector accounted for 38.2% of all fraudulent documents in 2020 and three in every 100 documents checked by them were fake.
The good news is that there are several straightforward, affordable ways to protect your organisation from the risks of illegal working and remain compliant with RtW legislation, even in challenging times.
We can help with online tools which offer additional security checks on global identity documents, even from a scanned copy. Over the past year, we’ve also adapted our services to offer additional features, for example, a remote-upload option for applicants to send copies over a secure link, and higher-level security checks, including biometric facial recognition software, which checks a candidate’s selfie against the photograph in their identity document to verify that they match.
Our online verification services can quickly assess whether a document is real and our Right to Work service can also offer guidance on the right documents to request from applicants as evidence of Right to Work in the UK. We update these services to make sure our customers stay compliant, even as immigration guidance changes.
Investing in a new process during uncertain times may feel risky, but our service offers a low minimum order and no long-term contract. As we don’t know how long restrictions will remain, or what the finalised post-Brexit guidance will be, our customers tell us that this type of service gives them the flexibility they need to protect themselves in the short-term.
Looking forward to a digital future
Although Covid-19 and lockdown initially made Right to Work checks more challenging for lots of employers, the new measures introduced by the government have opened up an alternative remote option for Right to Work checks which is viable and effective. Indeed, for many employers, the current measures are an improvement on the old requirement of having to see original documents as they can provide a more robust and time saving checking process.
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