Digital Identity Checks

Digital identity checks are coming in the form of a new tool called Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT). This is to be introduced from 6th April 2022, so, what does this mean for your company?

Digital Identity Checks

Employers have been required to carry out in-person right to work checks for many years now. But it all changed in March 2020 when the pandemic hit and arrangements were put in place enabling digital, rather than physical, checks to be made of a person’s right to work in the UK. It had been expected this would just be a temporary measure, and physical checks would return as the covid situation improved. But several extensions were made to digital identity checks as the pandemic rumbled on. And now it’s been decided that a digital system will be used on a permanent basis, with a new digital right to work check tool being introduced.

Although information is still emerging on an ongoing basis, some details about the new system have recently been announced. Here’s our guide to all of the points companies will need to be aware of.

When will the new permanent digital identity checks system be introduced?

It’s going to be introduced from 6th April 2022. From this date onwards, employers will be able to use the government-certified identification document validation technology (IDVT) to confirm British and Irish citizens’ right to work in the UK.

How will the checks be carried out?

The IDVT can be used to verify the identity of valid British passports, valid Irish passports and valid Irish passport cards. While the precise details are still to be confirmed, we do know it will involve a five-part identity checking process. Firstly, gathering the evidence of the identity – so, in other words, uploading a copy of the passport or passport card. Secondly, checking the evidence is genuine or valid. Thirdly and fourthly, checking that there’s a history of the claimed identity and checking whether the claimed identity is at high risk of identity fraud. And finally, checking that the identity belongs to the person claiming it. This final stage will require the employer to make an image of the individual claiming the right to work, either in person or via a video call, and confirm it’s a true likeness – to the IDSP if using one (more on who they are in a moment).

What if an individual doesn’t have a valid passport or card?

In these instances, employers can accept expired British and Irish passports and cards. But they will need to carry out the checks manually rather than via the IDVT. This is also the case for any other eligible physical documents, or documents needed to confirm a change of name or gender.

Will employers have to conduct all of the checks themselves?

The short answer for all forms of manual checks is yes. They must be done in person by the employer.

But when IDVT is being used, employers will have the option to engage a certified IDVT service provider (known as an IDSP) to carry out the checks. This will lift some of the administration off the employer – but certainly not all. The employer will have to ensure the IDSP is certified to the required standards as well as train their own staff in what’s required when liaising with the IDSP. As mentioned above, the employer will be required to see the potential employee, either face to face or via a screen, and confirm to the IDSP it’s a true likeness and the identify belongs to the person claiming it.

The employer will also need to check the prospective employee’s IDSP verified identity against any other documents needed to establish eligibility to work and follow up on any queries before employing the individual. It will ultimately always be the employer’s responsibility to make sure all right to work checks are conducted as required and to prevent illegal working.

What will be the system for non-British/Irish citizens?

From the 6th April 2022, right to work checks can only be carried out online for non-British/Irish nationals who have a biometric residence permit, biometric residence card or frontier worker permit. Employers will no longer be able to carry out manual right to work checks (i.e. seeing and copying the physical documents) for these individuals and instead must use the Home Office’s online right to work check service. Retrospective checks won’t be required.

A positive step forward

Undoubtedly, this is a positive move in many respects – with remote and hybrid working becoming far more commonplace since the pandemic, it makes sense to start shifting the right to work checking process online. It should make life easier for companies and candidates and help speed up the recruitment process.

There are some concerns however over the fact that businesses will have to meet the costs attached to the IDVT checks, while the online service for overseas candidates is free. There’s even speculation that this could disadvantage UK jobseekers if companies, especially smaller businesses, are looking to save on costs. We await more information on what the actual costs are likely to be; you can read more on the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s perspective here.

Until the system’s launched, employers must follow current right to work checks guidance. If you’re concerned about complying with everything that’s required of you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can use our extensive HR expertise to guide you on what you must do to fully comply with right work to checks – and all other aspects of your employment obligations too. Please do get in touch with us for a chat about how we can help you.

Business Planning, Legal Obligations

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