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Digital right to work checks to be introduced from April

After a successful trial of digital right to work (RTW) checks during the pandemic, the UK government has committed to make the move permanent, starting 6 April 2022.

The introduction of digital right to work checks, a timeline:

March/April 2020: Government makes it easier for employers to check Right to Work

May 2021: Return to physical Right to Work checks delayed

June 2021: What HR needs to know about Brexit right to work checks from 1 July

August 2021: Government extends digital right to work checks to 2022

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), which campaigned for the introduction of a permanent digital RTW system, says the system should allow employers and recruiters to place people more quickly and easily than before.

Responding to the announcement, REC chief executive Neil Carberry said: “Recruiters have told us throughout the pandemic that this system is quicker and easier, reducing the time it takes them to get candidates into work while increasing levels of compliance and helping to keep staff safe during the pandemic.

“These benefits will remain important as the jobs market recovers, in the face of shortages of candidates for key roles.”

However, Carberry expressed concern about the potential cost of the new digital RTW system.

The cost of doing checks digitally will have to be covered by employers which, according to a Home Office review, could cost anything between £1.45 and £70 per check.

“With recruiters placing a million temporary workers into roles every day, a system that charges pounds per check will be unsustainable for smaller firms,” said Carberry.

“Every week, hundreds of thousands of checks are undertaken – at that scale, it should be easy to make the process low-cost. This will be a key priority for the REC in the months to come.”

First introduced in March 2020 when the UK went into lockdown, digital RTW checks allow people to remotely upload copies of personal documents rather than having to have them verified in person.

The concern with this type of system is that it wouldn’t be as secure as in-person verification.

As a result, the Home Office, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has proposed a new UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework.

This framework sets out the rules and standards for organisations to follow to carry out secure, trustworthy, and consistent digital identity checks.

The framework will also enable third-party service providers to apply for government certification of their digital RTW technology to give employers more options for sourcing checks, particularly for those not in scope to use the Home Office online services.

Service providers can begin the certification process this month.

More details about the UK’s digital RTW checks can be found here.