It is a legal requirement for all UK employers to prevent illegal work, with can be done by conducting right-to-work checks before employing a candidate. These checks are done to ensure citizenship or immigration status. Although necessary, recent changes in these mandatory changes have impacted the recruitment process for many.
Due to the pandemic, the UK government temporarily allowed for remote right-to-work checks – which ended in September 2022. This past system has allowed many employers to adopt more efficient and fast right-to-work check processes. However, the move back to face-to-face checks has slowed down the hiring process for many, causing employers to lose promising talent.
This article will discuss the right-to-work checks and their impacts on UK employers. Although there has been a procedural change recently, right-to-work checks should not become a burden or hindrance to a business.
UK Right-to-Work Checks
The UK Government has released a right-to-work check guidance following the change in October 2022. Employers are urged to follow the guidance to avoid the illegal hiring of employees.
Illegal working drives illegal migration, which in turn will cause vulnerable individuals to become prone to exploitation. Ultimately, it can negatively affect the labour market and businesses as it will drive down wages, increase exploitation, increase tax evasion and may lead to modern slavery.
It is the responsibility of employers which may include their human resources department to conduct these checks. A civil penalty may be liable to employers that are found to employ individuals without required permission and if proven that the review has not been adequately conducted.
Changes in October 2022
As mentioned before, the UK Government has moved back the right-to-work check procedure to be done face-to-face. Before, employers were able to conduct these checks via video calls and scanned documentation. Per 1 October 2022, this was no longer allowed.
However, the UK Government has allowed for digital right-to-work checks using Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) from an identity service provider (IDSP) as well as the Home Office online right-to-work check. These two options provide more time-efficient methods to conduct the checks, without doing manual face-to-face processes.
It should be noted that it is still within the responsibility of the employer that these checks are done correctly, not the IDSP.
Reaction to Changes
IDVT expert firm TrustID released a survey on right-to-work checks. This survey involved over 130 professionals within human resources, compliance, and business. The respondents were asked questions on perceived challenges in 2023.
Based on the survey, it was found that 96% recognise that right-to-work checks are necessary for their businesses. However, 46% have admitted that due to the changes, these checks are taking over a week to perform.
This increased processing time has caused several employers to lose new talent to other businesses that may be faster-moving. This is now a new challenge for businesses to keep up with processing time to ensure that candidates will go for their company.
Although 89% of them were aware that changes were happening in October 2022, 31% were not fully prepared for the changes. This has caused many to lose out over faster competitors. Right-to-work checks remain an essential part of the hiring process for UK employers. However, employers now must make smart decisions when it comes to conducting these checks to ensure they do not miss out on great talents. It is recommended that employers follow the guidelines properly and choose the most suitable method for these checks to ensure compliance while still being time efficient.