Speedread

From 1 October 2022, the requirement for employers to physically check their new hires’ right to work (RTW) documents will return unless they opt to use one of the new government ‘Identification Document Validation Providers’ (IDSP) to validate RTW evidence online.

Background

Prior to the pandemic, all RTW checks had to be carried out face-to-face.

As a temporary measure brought in during the pandemic, the Home Office allowed employers to carry out RTW checks over video call and to accept scanned documentation (as opposed to having face-to-face checks and then copying and retaining original documents, as was the pre-pandemic requirement). This temporary measure will end on 30 September 2022.

Reminder of requirements

All UK employers must carry out certain RTW checks for new recruits (regardless of nationality) and also use reasonable steps to ensure their current employees have and maintain a RTW in the UK. While there is no standalone liability for employers who fail to correctly carry out RTW checks, failing to do so exposes employers to fines of up to £20,000 per breach in the event that they employ someone illegally (plus criminal liability, disqualification of directors, reputational damage, among other risks). Compliant RTW checks secure a statutory excuse to civil liability for the hiring of illegal workers.

October changes

From 1 October 2022, employers can no longer check a new hire’s RTW papers via the ‘pandemic’ online approach. Generally, employers will have two main options for complying with RTW requirements:

  1. Return to face-to-face checks. Employers can opt to return to the pre-pandemic process obtaining physical RTW evidence, checking that evidence, copying and recording it, and retaining it for as long as the individual remains employed by the business.
  2. Using one of the government approved IDSP providers to do a digital RTW check. Employers can work with IDSPs to utilise ‘Identification Document Validation Technology’ to carry out digital identity checks on UK and Irish citizens who have valid RTW documentation. The process involves the new hire scanning their passport (or Irish passport card, if relevant) into the system and undertaking a biometric scan of their face.

Online options remain in place for recruits coming from outside the UK and Ireland who have a biometric residence permit, abiometric residence card, frontier worker permit holders or e-visas.

Are you ready for the changes?

To prepare for the changes, employers should:

  • Consider whether they require an IDSP, or resort to manual checks (in accordance with those undertaken prior to the introduction of the temporary COVID-19 related concessions).
  • If it makes business-sense, engage a certified IDSP.