Will Digital Right to Work impact unprepared businesses as GDPR did?

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Article by Mark O’Hara, Enterprise Sales Manager, ID-Pal

Every employer in the UK is required to carry out a right to work check on every UK-based employee to confirm they have permission to perform the work on offer from an immigration perspective.

While the notion may be a simple one, ever-changing government guidance and backlogs across Europe and the UK to update an individual’s immigration status can make navigating these checks something of a minefield.

The current rules on how to conduct right to work checks were introduced at the height of the pandemic to help employers overcome onboarding candidates remotely.  Employers were permitted to carry out checks via video chat and with scanned documents or through the use of apps.

However, research on nationality fraud has shown that the pandemic spurred a sharp increase in identity fraud, with British documents accounting for 12% of fake identity documents in 2021, compared to just 4% in 2019.  Whatever the method of conducting checks, it is critical for employers to look at the full onboarding experience to see where they can be exposing their business to risk.

To allow employers time to adjust procedures, the UK government extended COVID-19 adjusted check measures until the end of September. Then, on October 1, new legislation was introduced enabling employers to appoint digital identity service providers (IDSPs) to carry out digital checks too.

By uploading personal documents via an IDSP, employees can verify their identity remotely, reducing the time and risk when employers or hiring managers have to manually conduct right to work verification checks.

While any changes to legislation can be daunting, particularly when personal data is at stake, the use of digital right to work checks with an IDSP can prove transformative to businesses. The benefits are vast, but arguably the most important will be the level of data protection and security given to both employers and employees when processing identity documents.

One need only look at how General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) transformed the privacy landscape, ushering in a new dawn in privacy and data protection for consumers and setting a global standard for how businesses should handle this data.

The ability to carry out ID&V checks digitally can revolutionise companies’ hiring and onboarding processes. Much like GDPR, it’s crucial that firms right across the board understand the changes that are coming into effect and how they will impact their business.

Transform candidate onboarding

As employers face a war for talent, and remote or hybrid working becomes the norm for many, businesses simply can’t afford to be losing out on potential candidates with time-consuming, potentially risky processes. Using a system that allows identity documents to be quickly and easily checked from anywhere in any language will be far more appealing, letting businesses cast their hiring net wider and transform their employee onboarding process.

In a world that is rapidly growing more digitalised, data protection and privacy are more important than ever and allowing employers to appoint an IDSP is another step in the right direction. Using sophisticated identity verification solutions and regulatory compliant technology to provide multi-layered checks not only ensures businesses can meet their compliance requirements, but better protects employee data.

Stay ahead of the curve

As of October 1, employers have the choice to carry out digital right to work checks or manual checks in-person, or as many will do, a combination of both solutions. The Home Office has recommended employers use a certified IDSP to ensure all guidance and standards laid out by the trust framework are met.

As with any major legislative changes, it pays to be ahead of the curve. What we saw with the introduction of GDPR is that those firms who made changes early on and implemented GDPR-compliant processes before it came into force naturally found themselves on the front foot once the legislation was introduced.

To make the most of the security and efficiencies digital right to work checks offer, businesses should review their recruitment policy and make any changes required to begin carrying out the right to work checks digitally from day one.

Most importantly, they should make the most of the advantages of digital identity verification (ID&V) from the outset, rather than face a race against the clock further down the line, as we saw many businesses do with GDPR. Those who are unprepared for legislative changes and the digital direction that will form the future of employee checks, will find themselves more vulnerable to higher costs to change, more compliance measures to adjust to and ultimately, face the very real risk of losing talent.

About the author

Mark O'HaraMark O’Hara is the Enterprise Sales Manager at ID-Pal, a global identity verification solution. Mark has over 25 years’ experience within the Sales and Marketing function, having built and scaled start-ups across a variety of industries as well as directing Global Sales and Marketing operations for a billion-dollar company.

Mark has prior experience in technology solutions and joined ID-Pal with a passion for SaaS within Identity Verification, Digital Identity, Telecommunications and Financial Services.

Updates in Right to Work legislation is a key area of interest for Mark who uses his expertise to support UK businesses with their compliance needs and advises employers how they can avoid risk using ID-Pal’s off-the-shelf solution.


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