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Experts

Digital right to work checks for British and Irish Citizens

IDVT has been introduced to facilitate digital identity checks for those British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport.

As discussed in our previous update, from 6 April 2022, right to work checks for all individuals with biometric residence cards, permits and frontier worker permits MUST be checked online; you can no longer manually check those right to work documents. Online checks permit individuals to verify their identity and evidence their right to work remotely, rather than presenting physical documents to the employer.

In line with the Home Office aim to make all right to work checks digital, Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) has been introduced to facilitate digital identity checks for those British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport (including Irish passport cards).

Employers will enter a commercial relationship with an IDSP (Certified Digital Identity Service Provider) to carry out the right to work checks on prospective employees who have a valid British or Irish passport. Where a provider has been certified, the Home Office has accepted that its IDVT can verify an individual’s identity to at least a medium level of confidence (the minimum level of identity assurance recommended for employers engaging an IDSP for right to work checks).

The Home Office has now published details of these IDSPs, so employers can carry out digital right to work checks on those who hold a valid UK or Irish passports (or Irish passport card).

What are the benefits?

  • The convenience of right to work checks on British and Irish passport holders being carried out by an external service provider, especially during larger scale recruitment campaigns, will free up valuable management time.
  • Using IDVT, a right to work check on a British or Irish passport holder is carried out remotely. Managers will not have to carry out manual checks.
  • The Home Office states that “enabling the use of IDVT for right to work checks will help to support long-term post pandemic working practices, accelerate the recruitment and onboarding process, improve employee mobility and enhance the security and integrity of the checks”.

What are the drawbacks?

  • IDSPs will only be able to verify valid British and Irish passports (including Irish passport cards). An IDSP cannot check an expired document.
  • The employer retains important legal responsibilities whilst using an IDSP. This is not outsourcing the entire right to work checking process to the IDSP and employers:
    • Must carry out their “own due diligence to satisfy themselves to a reasonable belief that their chosen IDSP has completed the check correctly in the prescribed manner”.
    • Will remain liable for the civil penalty where employees are working illegally, and it is ‘reasonably apparent’ that the check has not been completed properly by the IDSP.
    • Must satisfy themselves that the photo and biographical details (e.g., DOB) are consistent with the individual presenting themselves for work.
    • Will also need to account for any discrepancies in names where they differ between the documents.
    • Will not have a statutory defence to any illegal working penalties “where it is reasonably apparent that the prospective employee is not the individual linked to the identity which was verified by the IDSP”.

How much will it cost?

Information regarding the costs associated with IDSPs has not been published. Pricing is set by each individual provider.

Is this compulsory?

No. The Home Office has extended the COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks to 30 September 2022, in part to get this system up and running. From 1 October 2022, manual right to work checks must be carried out face to face again, so now is the time to consider this.

How can we help you?

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to ensure all employees have the right to work in the UK. If you do not comply with your duties under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and the Immigration Act 2016, and you have “reasonable cause to believe” that an individual does not have the required right to work in the UK, you can face harsh penalties, including a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker employed and a possible prison sentence.

We have a team of experienced immigration solicitors, who can help with and advise you on all aspects of carrying out compliant right to work checks.

For further guidance and support on any employment or HR issues, contact our employment law solicitors.