The announcement about permanent changes to the Right to Work process came right in the middle of the Christmas and New Year holidays in the UK, so it’s not surprising that so many missed the announcement. The paper, released on 27th December 2021, put forward a proposal to extend the current arrangements for checking Right to Work status digitally, and move to a fully digital service for all members of staff by the start of the next financial year at the start of April 2022. The system uses the new Identification Document Validation Technology, or IDVT.
Pandemic Temporary Measure
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, digital right to work checks were introduced as a way of minimising face to face contact between different households, and were marketed as a “temporary adjustment”. However, the new ways of checking identities online were a huge hit with both employers and workers, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the government have moved to make the temporary adjustment into a more permanent arrangement.
Home Office Consultation
The Home Office spent time in 2021 asking employers, contractors and employees about their experience with the digital system, before deciding whether to make the arrangements permanent. Although most respondents were very much in favour of a digital system, concerns were raised over the details of the operation of the system. Cost was one of the main issues raised, with employers estimating costs of checking identities digitally at anything between 50p and £25 per candidate checked.
It’s also important to point out that the digital identity checking isn’t a replacement for the more traditional face to face checks. Companies are still free to ask employees to complete checks in the old-fashioned way, face to face with documents verified in person.
New IDVT System
There will be a few changes to the digital system however, as under the temporary arrangements, employers were able to ask to see identity documents using software such as Zoom, Teams or Skype. Under the new system, the only platforms which can be used are the ones which have been certified as compliant by the Home Office.
One of the other benefits to both employers and workers is the ability to run both Right to Work checks and identity checking for DBS checks – if required – through the same platform. In theory, these changes should make the whole process much easier and more streamlined for everyone.
The system seems great in theory, but concerns have been raised about the potential costs to employers who wish to use the new technology. The Home Office have projected a wide range of possible costs for the digital right to work checks, anything between £1.45 and £70 per check. These costs would be met by employers. Industry bodies have raised concerns about charges at the higher end of the scale, especially for businesses who are struggling to come back from the effects of the ongoing pandemic on their trading and profits.