Tony Machin, CEO of TrustID, discusses how the pandemic has affected Right to Work compliance checks and how recruiters can prepare for Brexit and beyond.
We live in uncertain times. Like most other office-based workers, over the past year, recruiters have had to rapidly adapt to a new world of compliance due to remote working and legislative uncertainty. In a business that’s all about people, this has presented recruitment agencies with their own unique challenges. Establishing candidates’ Right to Work (RtW), for example, can be particularly problematic, as it has traditionally relied on face-to-face meetings and visual checks on original identity documents. But, as has been said, ‘adversity breeds creativity’. New and innovative technology, designed to overcome the problems of remote recruitment, can bring advantages to recruiters and help smooth uncertainty over post-Brexit employment checks.
Right to Work in the Covid era
Though many things are uncertain right now, RtW checks are likely to be around for some time. With the number of fake documents in circulation increasing each year, preventing fraudsters from slipping through the net is increasingly challenging. In the past year alone, our customers saw fake identity documents claiming to represent over 52 different nationalities. Making manual checks on such a huge range of documents isn’t easy face-to-face, but remote recruitment has clearly added new challenges.
It is imperative for recruiters to continue conducting RtW checks in the most efficient and effective way possible, even in a remote recruitment environment. Fortunately, temporary changes to government guidance on RtW have made this easier during Covid-19. Thanks to new technology, it can be more efficient and more effective, too.
Prior to the pandemic, recruiters could conduct compliant RtW checks remotely if they had an individual’s original identity document and could check it with the candidate ‘present’ over a video link, or if the individual had a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or EU Settlement scheme (EUSS) ‘share code’. However, getting to see original documentation has become more difficult and not everyone has a BRP or EUSS share code. So, the UK government has introduced an adjusted procedure which allows recruiters to temporarily check a candidate’s RtW using scanned copies or photos of identity documents. You can then arrange a video call with the applicant and ask them to hold up the original documents to check against the digital copy, record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken due to Covid-19.”
The revised guidelines describe these adjusted RtW checks as temporary and as such, recruiters need to complete the check, by seeing the original document in person once the temporary measures come to an end. The government have not yet set an end date, but will give organisations an eight week window to carry out the required checks of the original documents.
While the updated guidance is designed to make remote RtW checks easier, we know that many recruiters may not be confident checking documents remotely without being able to touch and see the documents and may also be relying on a dispersed team with minimal document training. So, while the updated guidance makes the checking process more convenient, it can also make it inconsistent, more uncertain and less robust.
One way to address these concerns is to outsource identity and/or RtW checks to an identity checking specialist. A third-party expert can help keep you compliant with the latest legislation and remove the stress of reliably verifying scanned identity documents issued from across the globe. And, if you choose a partner that offers the latest remote checking tools, you won’t need to invest in hardware, software or additional training to protect your organisation from illegal working.
Brexit and beyond
Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns isn’t the only issue affecting RtW checks today. The post Brexit world has also raised some challenges. The Home Office has not yet published full details on how to check EEA nationals not on the EUSS after 30th June 2021. We do know, however, that from 1st July, employers will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as evidence of RtW in the UK and should instead ask applicants not on the EUSS to provide an appropriate visa. The lack of absolute clarity on the required checks needed to remain complaint is clearly causing concern. TrustID is therefore seeing an increased level of enquiries from agencies wanting to establish a relationship with an expert identity organisation who will help them remain complaint during these changing times, leaving them to concentrate on what they do best – recruit candidates.
Electronic checking for Right to Work
Confirming candidates’ identity in the midst of a global pandemic and with Brexit guidance changes looming may feel daunting, but the good news is that there are several straightforward, affordable ways to protect your agency from the risks of illegal working.
Firstly, how you choose to carry out identity checks on applicants will depend on your processes, internal skills and the perceived level of risk in your sector. For example, if you’re recruiting a high number of temporary candidates, particularly in a higher-risk sector like construction consider using an identity checking specialist. TrustID customers in this sector accounted for 38.2% of fraudulent documents in 2020 and three in every 100 documents checked were fake.
Identity checking experts can help you with online tools which offer additional security checks on global identity documents, even from a scanned copy. These specialist service providers may also offer additional features, for example, a remote-upload option for applicants to send copies over a secure link, or higher-level security checks, such as facial recognition software, which checks a candidate’s selfie against the photograph in their identity document to verify that they match.
A good identity service provider can quickly assess whether a document is real and offer guidance on the right documents to request from applicants as evidence of RtW in the UK, even as immigration guidance changes.
Investing in a new process during uncertain times may feel risky, so look for a service which offers a low minimum order or no long-term contract. As we don’t know how long restrictions will be in place, or what the finalised post-Brexit guidance will be, this type of service gives you the flexibility you need to protect your business in the short-term.
Looking forward to a digital future
Although Covid-19 and lockdown initially made RtW checks more challenging in term of validation, the new measures introduced by the government have opened up an alternative remote option for RtW checks which is viable and effective. Indeed, for many recruiters, the current measures are an improvement on the old requirement of having to see original documents, and can provide a more robust and time saving checking process when carried out with a well selected technology partner.