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Charity slams Employer Checking Service

The Work Rights Centre (WoRC) has called on the Home Office to overhaul its Employer Checking Service, citing poor wording, lack of clarity and outdated information.

A new report from the employment rights charity outlined its concerns about the online platform, which is intended to help employers check migrants' right to work if they are unable to prove their status with a ‘share code’.

The process also applies to the thousands of EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals awaiting an outcome for their application to the EU Settlement Scheme.

According to the latest figures from the Home Office, more than half a million EU settled status (EUSS) applications are yet to receive an outcome from the Home Office.

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Speaking to HR magazine Dora-Olivia Vicol, director at WoRC, said: “The Employer Checking Service needs a few urgent changes. Some of them are relatively small, like making sure that questions are worded consistently, and that employers are reminded that retrospective checks are not necessary.

“But the biggest thing that needs to happen is the process of familiarising employers with the different types of proof that applicants get after they have made an EUSS application (and which they will need to enter in the Employer Checking Service).

“Some people will receive a digital Certificate of Application with a 16-digit Unique Application Number, others will have a paper confirmation with a nine-digit reference number. Others will only have a receipt from the post office, confirming that the application was sent. The Home Office needs to familiarise employers with how this heterogeneity of proof fits with the ECS.”

Leaving the system as it is means that employers will find it challenging to hire applicants with a pending EUSS status, said Vicol.

"This is bad news for workers. But it’s also bad news for employers. It can slow down recruitment, make them lose good candidates, and ultimately make it harder for businesses to get back into gear after COVID,” she said.

WoRC has also urged the Home Office to raise awareness of the new process for right to work checks, and to strengthen its capacity to clear the backlog of EUSS applications.

“The Home Office can fix the Employer Checking Service and raise awareness of the process, particularly of the different types of proof available for pending EUSS applications,” said Vicol.

“Employers are understandably confused, and some overreact by rejecting applicants who are awaiting EUSS status. This is bad for business, and terrible for the thousands of workers awaiting status. The Home Office should use its power to fix it. It can be done.”