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UPDATE: Digital right-to-work checks to become permanent

The government has announced that digital right-to-work checks are to be made permanent from April 2022 following widespread calls to make the temporary digital measure a longer-term feature.

Digital right to work (RTW) checks were introduced on 30 March 2020, on a temporary basis, to alleviate the practical difficulties associated with completing physical checks whilst working remotely during the Coronavirus pandemic. It allowed checks to be carried out over video calls. These were initially set to expire in June 2021 but were extended to make the process easier and quicker for employers struggling with staff shortages and ongoing periods of remote working arrangements.

It also allowed job applicants and existing workers to send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals. Employers could also use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee could not provide any of the accepted documents.

It has now been announced that a permanent system of digital RTW checks will be put into place from 6 April 2022 following months of campaigning by the recruitment sector.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said that the introduction of the digital system has been popular among employers, adding that any benefits of the new system will be important for businesses as the job market recovers.

“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”.

The Home Office review states that the costs of using the new digital system will have to be met by employers. This could vary from £1.45 to £70 per check. These costs will only apply to RTW checks conducted on UK nationals, while employers can continue to use the existing free online checking service for overseas candidates, the REC argues that this would result in a two-tier system which disadvantages UK jobseekers in the labour market.

It won’t just be only employers who can use soon-to-be certified service providers of new Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT). The technology will be used by the Disclosure and Barring Service too, meaning new workers needing security clearance can also be checked entirely remotely from April 6th.

The continuation of the adoption of digitalisation to reduce administration time for employers and recruiters for RTW is one of many digital ways to support HR proposes.