Following lobbying from recruitment sector bodies, the Home Office has announced a further delay to the resumption of physical Right to Work checks.
Since March last year, temporary measures have been in place that allow employers to check potential employees have the right to work using video calls and by accepting scanned documents rather than originals.
However, these measures were due to come to an end on June 21 and from that point employers would have been required to return to conducting in-person checks.
Both the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) had called for this to be pushed back following the announcement of a four-week delay to the easing of the UK lockdown.
The REC estimated that more than 300,000 people a week could be delayed from starting work if the Home Office did not allow digital Right to Work checks to continue during the extended lockdown period.
Last week the Home Office announced an extension of digital Right to Work checks until 1 September, in line with the delay in the lifting of the remaining restrictions.
“This will ensure employers have sufficient time to put measures in place to enable face to face document checks,” it said in a factsheet.
Permanent change next step?
In response to the announcement, Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said: “This is a sensible decision that will keep the jobs market moving. We’re pleased government has listened, and we look forward to working with the Home Office on the next logical step – a permanent digital system.”
Both the REC and APSCo have previously called on the government to put in place a permanent digital solution, arguing the success of the systems put in place during the pandemic proved such systems were workable on a long-term basis.
This has also been backed by specialist background screening and identity services firm Sterling.
Steve Smith, Managing Director for EMEA at Sterling, said: “Getting the Right to Work share code process in place over the course of the pandemic has been incredibly valuable for employers. In some instances it has streamlined RTW checks and has the potential to make some procedures more robust. In fact, we’ve witnessed organisations build digital and biometric identity checks into their screening programmes which decreased the potential for identity fraud, and any steps to drive compliance should certainly be welcomed and embraced more broadly.
“While there are circumstances that will necessitate in-person verification in the future, we would be disappointed to see the hard work that has gone into the digital solution over the last 18 months go to waste. It is our hope that the government and the Home Office use this extension period to consider how a hybrid approach to in-person and digital checks could work.”
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