The UK Government has announced a new virtual right to work check, which will come into effect on 1 October. Prior to the pandemic, businesses had to meet new recruits in-person and view physical copies of their passports to verify their right to work in the country. However, this was temporarily changed on 30 March 2020 to allow remote working, with employees being required to simply hold up their passports to screens while working from home. The Home Office announced last December that this virtual checking process would continue, but that businesses would need to use third-party software from 6 April 2022 to comply. However, the deadline has now been pushed back to 1 October. Despite these changes affecting every UK business, digital identity start-up Xydus and Censuswide have found that 48% of businesses are unprepared for the new virtual right to work check, with 78% oblivious to the fact that non-compliance could result in a prison sentence. Additionally, 3% of companies have admitted to not conducting any right to work checks at all, which is illegal.
According to the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum Act, employers must carry out due diligence to confirm any temporary, part-time, or permanent employee has the right to work in the UK before they can begin employment. Right to work checks also apply to any work experience or unpaid workers, and the Home Office requires all businesses to keep evidence of any right to work checks they conduct, as well as ensuring that the document presented is genuine and matched to the rightful holder.
If employers ignore the check, they may face a fine of up to £20,000 for each employee who is found to be working in the UK illegally, or even criminal charges. Right to work checks apply to all British and Irish nationals, as well as EEA and non-EEA nationals.
A number of software providers offer virtual right to work checks, including Credas, Hooyu, OneID, Rightcheck, Sterling, TrustID, and Yoti. Credas, for example, offers biometric facial recognition and liveness detection to verify an individual’s identity, along with NFC technology to confirm the authenticity of UK passports. The cost of the service varies between providers and is typically based on pricing tiers or a pay-per-check basis.