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Calls for Home Office to address concerns with digital identity

The move to digital identity checks is something we’ve called for and welcomed when it was first announced. However, when we drill down into the details there are issues that have the potential to negatively impact staffing companies.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has called on the Home Office to address the flaws it has raised in the plans outlined to introduce permanent digital Right to Work (RTW) screening.

According to Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at APSCo, while the introduction of the option to obtain a digital RTW confirmation from a certified service provider of Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) is welcomed, there are some concerns in the plans outlined, including:

1. A lack of clarity around standardised rates or fee caps to prevent SME recruiters from being financially burdened

2. Limited timeframes to allow for an appropriate preferred supplier selection process

3. The potential for unnecessary duplication of checks

Tania commented: “The move to digital identity checks is something we’ve called for and welcomed when it was first announced. However, when we drill down into the details there are issues that have the potential to negatively impact staffing companies. While there will understandably be costs associated with digital checks, we are concerned that SME staffing firms will be exposed to high fees given that the decision around certified provider usages is often driven by the end-user’s outsourcing provider. This is an additional cost of supply, leading to higher costs for end-users or lower rates for workers, dis-incentivising the best talent to apply for positions. We have asked that the Home Office introduce low standard rates or caps on fees and other suitable limitations on the IDVT certified providers to prevent staffing firms being unnecessarily financially impacted.

“The cost is not the only challenge, however. End-users, outsourcing providers and public sector frameworks generally require the digital RTW to be carried out by the party holding the contract with them, rather than the worker. This means that the process could lead to an unnecessary duplication in checks. It would be simpler and more cost effective for private and public sector clients to recognise in their contracts that the party with the contract with the worker is the correct entity to conduct the RTW digital check.

“Given that applications for certification only opened on 17th January we also anticipate time will be short to run an appropriate preferred supplier selection process to establish new relationships with IDVT certified providers ahead of the new rules coming into force. There may be a problematic period when firms can no longer use the Covid checking processes, but won’t be ready to use a digital solution. This will increase time to hire at a time when skills are already in short supply and has the potential to exclude candidates who aren’t able to complete a face-to-face RTW check. We have written to the Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, calling on the Home Office to address these issues raised and to temporarily extend the Covid-19 RTW check, providing an overlap with the digitalised process, to allow time for businesses to set up their arrangements with certified providers.”

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