Relief for employers & recruiters already struggling with skills shortages
The Home Office has announced an extension of the temporary adjustments which allow right to work (RTW) checks to be completed with copies of documents via video conference due to pandemic restrictions.
The announcement to extend is a welcome relief for employers already struggling with skill shortages. In-person RTW checks were set to begin again in September with fines of up to £20,000 for those not complying. Companies have been gearing up for the change, however, the temporary RTW checks solution will now continue to 5 April 2022 and employers are still allowed to carry out the adjusted checks using a scanned copy or a photo of the worker’s original documents via email or mobile phone.
The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has welcomed the delay to in-person right to work checks.
Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and Head of Public Policy at APSCo commented: “While we look forward to seeing the results of its longer-term review, we hope that the success of the digital processes over the last 18 months leads to a more appropriate and modern method of managing Right to Work checks.
“Research from the Better Hiring Institute – which Chair of the APSCo Compliance+ Committee, Keith Rosser, is a director of – shows that at least 40,000 workers were successfully hired during the pandemic via temporary adjusted checks. This highlights that the digital Right to Work checks have been working. And with the UK facing a skills shortage at a time when the Office for National Statistics has reported a record number of job vacancies, ensuring employment regulation is fit for purpose in the modern world of work and doesn’t put UK employers on the back foot, is crucial.”
Keith Rosser, Director Group Risk and Director of Reed Screening at REED, has championed the move to extend the digital RTW checks. He said: “Digital right to work checks have been critical for helping the Levelling Up agenda, driving Build Back Better, and helping with the current UK staffing crisis.”
Screening expert Sterling has called on the Home Office to use RTW extension to drive meaningful change. Steve Smith, Managing Director EMEA, Sterling, commented: “This digital move delivered a number of other positive results, streamlining checks for some and expanding the reach of recruitment activity as a worker’s location became less important – a critical element in a skills short market.”
The Home Office also confirmed that they’re reviewing the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital RTW checks for the future to introduce a sustainable digital solution which will include many who are unable to use the existing online checking service. This would enable checks to continue to be conducted remotely but with enhanced security.
Jason Medcalf, Sales Director at People Group, which specialises in pre-employment background-screening, added:
“Most recruiters feel that a return to manual checking of RTW, now or in the future, would needlessly apply the handbrake to the excellent work recruiters are doing to fuel the economic recovery of UK Inc. The sector is simultaneously facing the widest and most pronounced candidate shortages in years, plus a fundamental change in where, when and how recruiters perform their work.
“Research and business cases have shown that using the available technology as a precursor to human review delivers benefits ranging from filtering out fake and stolen documents that would pass a human-only review to halving the total length of time taken to validate an applicant and place them sooner – creating additional margin for recruiters, delighting end hirers, and mitigating the skills shortage.
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