Digital right to work checks - thinking of the future

Written by Leigh Foster

What seems a lifetime ago, on 30th March 2020 the UK Government confirmed that due to Covid-19 employers could temporarily perform remote right to work checks via video call.  Fast forward to 20th April 2021 and the Home Office confirmed the temporary checks would end on 17th May 2021 due to the rapid decline in Covid-19 cases and deaths meaning the previous way of working would be reinstated.



A large number of business owners kicked back saying the change was too early as a majority of their workers are still working from home and would continue this way for the foreseeable future, meaning there is a chance that face to face interaction would never happen and could impact potential hires if location became a key factor again. 

The good news is the Home Office did listen and extended the temporary checks to 21st June 2021, the final stage of the easing of lockdown.  But was this decision to give the Home Office more time to think of other options to the previous permanent checking process and finally become 100% digital using approved right to work verification apps, or extend the ‘view right to work’ section on the .gov website to UK citizen checks and not just EU/EEA citizens, which would surely make more sense? 

It’s such an easy, time-saving tool that requires the job applicant to generate a share code, provide this to their new employer and then the employer go to and enter the job applicants date of birth plus share code.  I’m probably making this sound a lot easier than what it actually is to implement as I’m sure data protection laws will play a huge part in this, but the government now have the chance to be innovative and create something that could benefit everyone. 

The original checks assume that the individual completing the RTW process can spot the correct watermarks, random fibres in the document, background print, and intaglio ink. As ID fraud becomes more and more advanced, there is always the risk that the employer is unable to spot a fraudulent document meaning technology is the most probable solution going forward.  Some of the features include:

  • Validation of the document type, expiration date and candidate’s date of birth
  • Optical character recognition
  • A number of the apps are approved by the UK Home Office where the liability can be passed on

I’m sure we have a long way to go before something like this is implemented, and one would hope that the UK Government keep the remote right to work checking process as this would help job seekers find work a lot easier, businesses to obtain the best talent across the country but also reduce the carbon footprint.  

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