Virtual challenge

Tony Machin, CEO of TrustID asks Are remote identity checks the new normal?

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we all saw an overnight switch from face-to-face to online. For some agencies, this presented a huge challenge around recruitment and compliance checks and left them facing a seismic shift in their processes. For others, already familiar with electronic identity checks, it just involved a small shift in the way they use and access that technology…

In March 2020, verifying identity remotely became a new and unique challenge for many recruiters. Without now being able to meet a candidate face-to-face to see and hold an identity document presented by its owner, they suddenly needed a new way to confirm that the applicant they were dealing with was actually who they claim to be.

The Government adjusted Right to Work guidance in late March 2020, meaning that recruiters could now:

  • accept scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than originals
  • carry out checks over video calls

So, this gave businesses an opportunity to review their processes and make robust, compliant identity checks, albeit in a new, remote environment.

We work with hundreds of recruiters but the landscape for our customers and prospects at the start of lockdown varied enormously. Some already had a remote identity check process and service in place and were able to add our Guest Links functionality which allows the candidates themselves to upload their identity documents remotely for checking by the TrustID service.

Others were used to only meeting and recruiting staff face-to-face. With offices closed and staff working remotely, many looked to move to online checks as a short-term measure or as an alternative tool to their usual on-premise checks.

We spoke to one of our customers, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, about how they moved to online checks for their candidates. The Trust had been using electronic validation to verify employee identity documents since 2018. In March 2020, with their HR team forced to work at home and unable to access their on-premise ID scanners, they turned instead to their online TrustID Cloud account, scaling up their use of the service as the pandemic continued. Pauline North, Medical HR Manager at the Trust says:

“Thank goodness we already had TrustID scanners and could get access to Cloud scans! The Coronavirus pandemic meant that my team were all working from home and we couldn’t do face to face checks. The Cloud facility meant that we still had assurance that the identity and Right to Work documents we received were checked thoroughly and any anomalies could be highlighted for further investigation.”

For many organisations, this challenging time has forced them to review lots of areas of their business and consider how technology can support them to drive new efficiencies. Perhaps the enforced change to their process could in fact herald the start of a new way of working?
Of course, it’s not yet clear if or when Right to Work guidance will return to its pre-Covid state. However, there’s no doubt that many of the recruiters we work with have seen that both their internal staff making checks and candidates having their identity checked are happy to accept and embrace online validation services.

One thing is certain: investing in smart, flexible identity verification tools today will set your agency up to effectively check applicants, whatever the future brings.



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