After months of petitioning by various recruitment bodies, the Government has announced that digital right-to-work checks will be made permanent from 6 April 2022.

Initially introduced as temporary measures, the checks were due to end on 5 April, following several extensions. Now, however, it has been confirmed that employers will be able to operate a fully digital hiring process on a long-term basis.

What does it mean?

The digital right-to-work checks mean that:

  • Checks can be carried out over video calls
  • Job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
  • Employers should use the Home Office Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents.

From 6 April 2022, employers will be able to use government-certified identification document validation technology (IDVT) to check British and Irish citizens’ right to work.

Many companies have welcomed the announcement, including the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), who lobbied for the digital checks to be made permanent.

What should employers know about costs?

The cost of the digital right-to-work checks are financed by employers, with prices varying from £1.45 to £70 per check, according to the Home Office.

Additionally, the costs will only be applied to documents from UK nationals, while the existing free online service can still be used for applications from overseas.

“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 Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC.

“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.”

What are the benefits?

Employers will see multiple benefits from being able to carry out digital right-to-work checks, and the system will be important for businesses as the job market rebuilds and recovers.

“Not only does it have the capability to reduce potential fraud through using sophisticated technology to verify documents, but it also removes the geographical barriers that the traditional process presented to recruiters, employers and applicants,” said Tania Bowers, global public policy director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies.

Several employers have complimented the efficiency of the system, highlighting the reduction of time taken to get candidates into work, while boosting levels of compliance. It has also assisted in keeping people safe during the pandemic.

It’s important that employers continue to check the proposed documents set out in right to work checks: an employer’s guide or use the Home Office right to work online service.

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