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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

REC urges new Immigration Minister to fix digital right to work checks system

Press releases

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has written to the Minister of State for Immigration expressing serious concerns over the new digital right to work (RTW) checking system. Introduced earlier this year, the system is causing massive disruption and inefficiency for businesses and the REC is recommending a revised approach that will also help ease staff shortages.

Amongst the suggestions the REC is putting forward on-behalf of its members are; a cap on pricing for digital right to work checks, allowing expired passports to be used as ID and requiring accreditation for providers to establish consistency.

The REC campaigned for the introduction of a permanent digital RTW system, both before the pandemic and following the government’s use of an emergency digital checking policy at the height of Covid-19.

The government originally planned to revert to an in-person check as lockdown ended, but this would have been a step backward for our economy at a time when we should be digital by default. A proper digital system reduces travel time and cost for workers, and enables agencies to get people into work more quickly, especially in remote and rural areas. But a digital system needs to be user-friendly and fair to UK citizens – there is already an effective system for those from outside the UK and Ireland.

Smaller recruitment and staffing firms have reported issues with the new system and the use of Identity Document Verification Technology (IDVT), and the REC is urging the government to make changes.

The REC’s letter outlines three specific issues with the current service:

1.     The new system creates disparity between UK and Irish nationals and overseas candidates, with the latter able to use the existing free online checking service to verify their RTW, a service unavailable to UK and Irish workers.

2.     There is confusion and inconsistency over Home Office advice on using expired passports as an acceptable form of ID for RTW checks. Given the backlog at the Passport Office, this is also adding significant delays as people don’t always have current passports, and many workers cannot afford to get one just for RTW purposes.

3.     Lastly, the REC has concerns over the cost and consistency of service being offered by firms providing digital RTW services. As there is no legal requirement for a provider to be certified, it has the potential to leave businesses, particularly SMEs, vulnerable to unscrupulous providers who do not carry out the appropriate checks.

Neil Carberry, CEO at the Recruitment Employment Confederation said:

“Introducing the digital right to work was a hugely positive step, but costs are currently too high, and the system treats different workers unfairly, as well as exposing firms to risk.

“By addressing the barriers we have identified, the Home Office can help to speed up the process of getting people into work. Anything that can be done to make the recruitment process more efficient and safer will go a long way to addressing the labour shortages we are experiencing.

“As the new Ministerial team find their feet, we’re ready to work with government on making the UK jobs market the competitive engine for growth we know it is.”



Notes to editors: 

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The REC is the voice of the recruitment industry, speaking up for great recruiters. We drive standards and empower recruitment businesses to build better futures for great candidates and themselves. We are champions of an industry which is fundamental to the strength of the UK economy. 

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