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Are you confused about IDVT right work checks via IDSPs?! Here is the lowdown on how digital right to work checks can help businesses verify documents for remote workers

Joanna Hunt
20/09/2022

Locations

United Kingdom

The outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic in March 2020, and the subsequent move to home working, presented HR teams looking to on-board new starters with a problem; how can you check the right to work documents for employees who are not in the office on their first day of work?

The Home Office quickly came up with a solution. They put in place a concession referred to as the adjusted right to work check process which enabled employers to carry out remote right to work checks of original documents. This allowed employers to hold video calls with new starters, where they held up their documents to be verified, as an acceptable form of right to work check.

Originally designed to be in place for only 8 weeks, the concession will finally be coming to an end on 30th September 2022. The concession proved very popular with employers and many will need to get an alternative solution in place, and fast, as the consequences of employing illegal workers are severe. An employer can face a fine of up to £20K per worker for anyone they have unwittingly employed who does not have the right to work in the UK. A correctly carried out right to work check provides an employer with some protection, it gives them a statutory excuse from a civil penalty if illegal working is ever found.

Employers can carry out right to work checks for remote workers who have digital immigration status, such as status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or a biometric residence permit, via the Home Office’s online right to work checking system. However, this is not currently available for British and Irish nationals.

What solutions are available?

From 1st October 2022 there will be two options for remotely checking the documents for British and Irish nationals. An employer can continue to carry out ‘manual right to work’ checks for them. This means checking the workers’ physical documents either in their presence or having the person appear live via video link if it isn't possible for them to attend in person. The latter option will require employees to post documents to the person carrying out a check - which many workers will be uncomfortable with and will be unworkable for many companies who have switched to remote working.

The second option is for an employer to use the new system of ‘digital right to work checks’, set up to remedy this problem. Launched in April this year, this allows employers to use Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) to carry out digital right to work checks. In short, employers can now delegate the identification element of the check to a third party, called an Identity Service Provider (IDSP). This check will then provide an employer with the all-important statutory excuse from a civil penalty, provided that the worker’s identity is subsequently verified by the employer.

How does the digital system work?

If an employer is interested in using digital checks for their workers, the first step is to identify an IDSP who can provide the check. A list of certified IDSP providers can be found here. Employers are not obliged to use a certified IDSP but it is well worth doing so as an employer has to be satisfied that an uncertified IDSP is able to carry out the checks correctly.

IDSPs will charge a fee for the checks and the amount depends on the quantity of checks an employer uses. As a ballpark the fees are likely to be in the region of £20 to £100 per check.

Once you have identified and engaged an IDSP, the process for checking an employee’s right to work documents is likely to go something like this.

  • The employer will first of all have to confirm that the worker is presenting a document which can be checked digitally. Currently this system is only available for in date, biometric, British and Irish passports. Anyone presenting with an expired passport will have to be checked manually.
  • The employer then contacts the IDSP to begin the digital right to work check.
  • The IDSP will then contact the worker to ask them to provide an image of their passport and provide a photograph for biometric face checks
  • Once this has been provided by the applicant, the IDSP will assess the validity of the document and confirm the facial match.
  • The IDSP will then provide the employer with a report confirming the right to work check
  • The employer must then keep a copy of this report for the duration of the employment and up to two years afterwards

Does the employer have to do anything?

Yes it is vital that an employer carries out their own checks to ensure that the IDSP completed the check in the correct manner and that the photograph and personal details match the person presenting for work. This means that an employer will need to verify the worker matches the information provided in the report via a video call or face to face meeting.  

Employers will also need to request further information to address any discrepancies with documents such as a different name, if someone has changed it due to marriage.

Is using digital checks mandatory?
 
No, employers can continue to carry out manual checks of workers’ documents if that system works for them. However, if an employer has large numbers of remote workers it is likely that the system will offer some benefits. It will relieve some of the administrative burden on HR teams and smooth recruitment processes. It also reduces any risks of unwittingly accepting counterfeit documents or accepting a document from an imposter.
 
For any employers who choose to use this system it is important that HR teams are trained and upskilled to ensure they know which right to work process to follow for each different type of status. It will also be important to update recruitment documentation to reflect these changes.

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Employment