The REC Urges the Home Office to Extend Digital Right to Work (RTW) Checks
It is estimated that over 300,000 potential workers could have delayed start dates if the Home Office does not continue to allow Right to Work (RTW) checks to be conducted digitally.
Since 30 March 2020, digital RTW checks have allowed employers and employment companies to hire new staff without having to physically meet the candidate to check the documents. This has helped the job market stay afloat while travel, lockdown and local restrictions were in place as well as keeping people safe. For foreign nationals, there is already a digital government system in place to check Right to Work, and since the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses being able to do similar digital checks for UK nationals has kept people safe, saved companies time and resources and levelled the playing field between the recruitment of UK and foreign nationals.
David Lewis, managing director of Integra People said:
“Being able to conduct digital RTW checks for our temporary workers has been a big help to our business over the last 15 months. It has meant we haven’t had to put our staff at risk by asking candidates to come into the office and potentially being exposed where it could be avoided. It has also meant we have been able to speed up the recruitment process as checks can be done in a matter of minutes rather than days to arrange a meeting.”
The Home Office has decided to reverse the ability for digital checks and revert back to in-person RTW checks from 21 June, despite the government’s decision to delay the final stage of unlocking until 19th July 2021. The REC has written to the Home Office urging them to extend the digital checks while they consult on a permanent digital solution and at the very least, until all restrictions have been lifted – to continue boosting business productivity, protect public health and get more people into work.
Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC, said:
“There are significant labour shortages across the UK right now in every sector. Any delays to hiring could have serious consequences for companies and the recovery. Digital Right to Work checks have saved employers time and money and helped people get back into work quickly while public health measures have been in place. Our experience is that they have also raised compliance levels. It makes no sense for government to shoot themselves in the foot and return to mandating in-person checks when the use of digital checks has been a success story of the pandemic. We urge the Home Office to continue with digital checks until at least 19 July and use the intervening time to consult on making them a permanent feature of the labour market.
“Many businesses and the public are understandably disappointed that the full re-opening of the economy has been delayed. But now this has happened, it is vital that government extends the targeted support measures that have helped businesses through the restrictions – including digital Right to Work checks.”