The Home Office has recently announced that pandemic-related measures to allow for remote checking of identities, which should have come to an end in September 2021, has been pushed back to April 2022.
With recruitment being problematic in many sectors, and employers struggling to fill vacancies, these measures have been widely praised by business. Anything which makes it quicker and easier to get people into work is obviously going to be seen as a benefit. In fact, the temporary measures put into place to deal with pandemic restrictions have been so successful that there are calls from many employers to make the arrangement permanent.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Right to Work checks all followed the same basic format. Employers have a legal obligation to ensure that the people they employ are in the UK legally, and also have the legal permission to work here. The easiest way of achieving this is to ask people to bring their passports to interview, but at a time when interviews are done over Zoom or Skype, how can this be achieved?
The Home Office agreed that during the pandemic, employers could check documents remotely instead. Workers could scan or photograph the relevant pages in their documents, then email them to their employer. During the interview, the photograph on the scanned image can then be compared against the appearance of the person on the video call to make sure it’s the same person. Feedback about the new digital arrangements has been hugely positive, and recruitment industry bodies are leading calls for the digital arrangements to be made permanent, rather than coming to an end on 2 April 2022 as is currently intended.
A Permanent Solution?
One of the main groups which would benefit from right to work checks being made permanently digital is employers in rural areas, or organisations who recruit workers remotely across the UK. Often, taking passports into the head office involves a long drive, or the risk of sending an original passport through the post. Other aspects of proving your identity are moving online too, so it makes sense to both employers and employees that right to work checks go the same way. Recruitment bodies point out that around 40,000 workers have been successfully recruited using the new digital system, without major incident, and that this proves that the solution should be permanent.
Advice for Job Seekers
The situation beyond April 2022 still appears unclear, but until then, digital identity checking will remain. You don’t need any special equipment to send an image to your prospective employer; a photo or scan taken on a smartphone will be sufficient. If you don’t have a passport, then ask your employer for guidance. Other documents, such as your original birth certificate or biometric identity cards can be used too. Practice taking photographs so that you get a clear and crisp image to send to your employer, and make sure you have good lighting and a clear background when going on a video call for further checking.