The recruitment industry has welcomed the news that the government is to delay the return of in-person right to work (RTW) checks for UK nationals until 1 September and are united in their endeavours to retain digital checks on a permanent basis.
Digital RTW checks were introduced in March 2020 and have allowed employers to hire new staff without having to meet them in person to check documents. The digital approach has kept people safe during the pandemic, saved recruiters time and resources as well as helping to slow the spread of the virus. It also levelled the playing field between UK and foreign nationals by allowing digital checks for both, rather than just for foreign nationals.
Recruitment industry body the REC maintains that a digital check takes around 5 minutes whilst an in-person check can take up to 45 minutes. As the REC’s Jobs Recovery Tracker recorded a surge in job adverts in May it was felt that reintroducing the in person checks could seriously disadvantage UK nationals seeking new employment after a year of lockdown restrictions.
The REC Jobs Recovery Tracker logged record weeks of new jobs adverts posted online. The highest for any week since the pandemic began was 224,000 adverts posted in the week of 17-23 May. This was followed by 208,000 in the last week of May, the third highest weekly figure. There are acute shortages in hospitality roles and an increase in adverts for other skilled occupations like teachers and welders.
The digital approach has proved a lifeline for companies, employers and job seekers. “There has been a huge amount of time and effort that has gone into adapting the RTW verification processes in a remote environment, and to return to pre-pandemic systems that do not retain the flexibility that is needed in a hybrid working environment will not help organisations during this recovery period,” said Tania Bowers, legal counsel and head of public policy at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).