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Concerns raised by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation

Since the introduction of digital Right to Work checks via third-party identity service providers (IDSPs) at the start of October this year, there has been widespread concern across organisations regarding the overall process in practice. Although the implementation of a digital process is a step in the right direction, after almost two months of practical implementation, concerns are starting to be raised across various sectors.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) voices concerns to Minister of State for Immigration

On the 15th November 2022, the REC wrote to Robert Jenrick MP to voice their concerns in relation to digital Right to Work checks, stating that there are three main issues with the current service: 

  • Disparity between UK & Irish nationals and overseas candidates - Overseas candidates can generally use a free, instant, online checking service (the share code) to prove their right to work in the UK; whereas UK and Irish nationals have the choice of either the Identity Document Verification Technology (IDVT) system which can incur a small fee, or they have to attend an in-person check. Manual checks takes longer and can incur additional travel costs for the candi-date also.
  • Disparity in the use of expired passports as a valid document for UK citi-zens - Expired passports can be accepted as valid proof of right to work for manual checks, but not digital ones, creating an inconsistency. Lower paid individuals cannot always afford to have, or need to have a current passport, therefore this puts them at a disadvantage. Even if a candidate were to renew their passport for the purpose of Right to Work checks, there is still a considerable backlog at the UK Passport Office which is affecting the speed of renewals.
  • Quality and consistency of IDSPs - Although there is a list of certified IDSPs, there is no legal requirement for a pro-vider to be certified, which may leave businesses  vulnerable to unscrupulous providers offering non-compliant checks. 

Suggestions that the REC have put forward so far include a price cap on digital Right to Work checks, allowing the use of expired passports as ID, and making pro-vider certification mandatory. 

“By addressing the barriers we have identified, the Home Office can help to speed up the process of getting people into work. Anything that can be done to make the recruitment process more efficient and safer will go a long way to ad-dressing the labour shortages we are experiencing”
- Neil Carberry, CEO of the REC 

The full letter can be viewed here. 

What should employers be aware of in the mean time?

Shara Pledger, immigration specialist at Pinsent Masons, has recently advised em-ployers to ensure that they are not delegating too much of their Right to Work checks to third-party IDSPs, due to confusion over the services that they are al-lowed to offer. Pledger advised that: 

 “IDSPs cannot verify documents that are not current British or Irish passports, or Irish passport cards – and cannot confirm that the person arriving with the em-ployer for work is the same person who has been verified. The employer must still conduct an ‘imposter check’ in person or via videocall to confirm a match be-tween the prospective employee and the IDSP report.” 

If employers are in any doubt about the circumstances under which they can uti-lise digital Right to Work checks, they should seek advice to ensure that they are not left exposed to potential financial penalties. 

The Advisory Bureau will continue to monitor for any future updates regarding the digital Right to Work check process. 

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