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Digital ID and Recruitment – What Do FMs Need to Know?

Digital ID and Recruitment – What Do FMs Need to Know?
27 September 2022
 

Whether recruiting remotely or in-person, facilities management businesses must keep up to date with the latest digital ID changes to remain compliant.

Stefan Sosnowski, Operations Director at uComply, outlines the changes relating to the documentation required when considering if your prospective employee has the Right to Work, and other compliance concerns to be aware of.

Stefan has over 25 years of experience within compliance control and change management, having worked for several top 100 firms including Credit Suisse First Boston. He has extensive knowledge of Right to Work, and immigration regulations and his deep understanding supports businesses across the recruitment industry.

 

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Picture: a photograph of Stefan Sosnowski. Image Credit: uComply

 

With Digital ID Just Around The Corner, Here’s What You Need to Know

 

Over the last few years, the landscape of how we recruit has changed dramatically and post-COVID, there are opportunities to recruit remotely for those who wish to do so. Technology has been the key driver behind making this simpler for the Home Office to implement.

According to uComply, one of the cleaning industry’s leading Right to Work and onboarding service providers, many businesses seem to be confused about the recent Home Offices guidance updates. The main concern voiced is understanding what it now takes to remain compliant and still obtain a Statutory Excuse.

Understanding the changes relating to the documentation required when considering if your prospective employee has the Right to Work is critical for compliance and the most recent changes include:

 

  • The introduction of share-codes for European workers who have settlement status following Brexit.
  • Temporary Home Office guidance was introduced during COVID which provides the ability to take copies of documents electronically and recruit without the need for the physical presence of the worker.  This is due to be discontinued on 30 September and from 1 October it will no longer be an option that can be used to obtain a Statutory Excuse. That is of course if the Home Office doesn’t decide to extend it.
  • Biometric Resident Permits/Cards, Frontier Worker Permits, some British National Overseas Visas as well as some statuses issued under the points-based immigration system need to have an electronic share code issued by the government.
  • Finally, there is the Government's Digital ID scheme which facilitates remote recruitment for UK and Irish citizens who have valid passports utilising an identity service provider (IDSP).

 

All employers who wish to continue to recruit remotely will need to use one of the above electronic methods of verification or revert back to the physical document-checking process.

 

Recruiting Remotely

 

uComply is hearing lots of questions being raised by employers and their compliance departments who are struggling to keep up with what all the changes means for them.  For example, cleaning and facilities management businesses who are still seeing workers face to face are unclear if they can still recruit with physical documents and the answer is not black and white. Many government documents now being issued have an internet and cloud based equivalent and in certain circumstances this is the version that needs to be used.

Some businesses are only recruiting remotely, with the newest technologies being deployed and these businesses are questioning if they need to see workers face to face. uComply states that an employer still needs to see a candidate either face to face or over a video call to ensure that the person presenting the identification documents owns them. This is one aspect of the guidance that hasn’t changed in any of the updates and equally applies to the UK and Irish Digital ID process as well as the Government e-visa programs.

 

Valid Forms of ID for Remote Recruitment

 

The types of identification that are valid for remote recruitment within the UK have also come under question as some employees do not have an electronic ID as their passport has expired and can only provide a birth certificate and National Insurance number. uComply has advised that the guidance from 1 October is very clear and will require employers to see the original documents in the presence of the holder for these manual documents. They have highlighted that this may present a challenge for many businesses that have a business model of providing nationwide coverage without a physical presence in the more outlying regions of the country.

 

TUPE Transfers

 

The other area that has caused concern according to uComply, is those businesses that regularly have TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)) transfers and are unsure of what they will be required to check. TUPE transfers require the incoming employer to automatically take over the existing employment contract from the date of the transfer ensuring a worker’s employment contracts and accrued employment rights continue, which removes the requirement for a new contract. This includes the length of service (AKA “continuous employment”) with the outgoing employer, which is also transferred; therefore, workers' original start date remains the same.

uComply has confirmed the guidance under TUPE clearly states that any Right to Work checks carried out by the transferor (the original employer) are deemed to be carried out by the transferee (the new employer), which means the new employer will obtain the benefit of any Statutory Excuse established by the original employer. This raises the issue that checks not carried out correctly by the original employer which results in employees, who started working on or after 29 February 2008, working illegally, may incur a penalty and this penalty becomes the responsibility of the new employer.

The guidance also states that all Right to Work checks need to be completed within 60 days of employment and the guidance also advises employers to undertake “fresh” checks for TUPE transfers where there is insufficient evidence that the original checks took place. In these circumstances, the right-to-work checks are applied using the current guidance.  What needs to be borne in mind here is that if an ‘illegal worker’ is found or the employee cannot provide sufficient documents to satisfy today’s guidance they will still have accrued employment rights. Professional legal advice should always be sought in these circumstances. 

Many businesses will have an established set of European workers that have worked for the company for many years whom they wish to retain. These workers will have ID cards/passports and there is a question about whether a share code is required. Again, uComply points to the guidance which states workers with a start date before 1 July 2021 do not require a share code and the Statutory Excuse against liability for a civil penalty will be maintained. It’s important to understand if the initial checks done originally are compliant with the guidance that was applicable at the time of the check. 

These are just a few of the key concerns uComply has been hearing across the industry and their advice is to ensure you work with a reputable company that has experience within Right to Work and familiarise yourself with the correct guidance which can be found here.

The penalties can be very high for incorrectly onboarding employees and peace of mind can be provided by using companies such as uComply.

This article does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice on immigration or employment law please consult a legal professional.

Picture: a photograph of a person where half of their face is being scanned digitally. Image Credit: uComply

Article written by Stefan Sosnowski | Published 27 September 2022

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