Identity and documents verification checks

There are several reasons why someone may want to use a fake identity to secure employment. These typically involve masking something from their true identity which would prevent them from being employed; e.g. a criminal record, past financial difficulties or not having the legal right to work in the country. This could involve providing a wholly faked identity or merely concealing one small part of it, such as a previous address which they know would be linked to an adverse credit report, for example.

Whatever the reason, allowing such a person into your workforce poses a significant risk to your business. Sadly, with identity theft and personal data breaches becoming more commonplace and with people becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to hide aspects of their personal history that they would rather not come to light, it’s a deception that employers need to be ever more vigilant about.

An identity check verifies an individual’s identity by cross-referencing their personal information (name, address and date of birth) against a variety of sources. In the UK, this can mean checking against the Electoral Roll, phone directories, bank accounts or even the National Deceased Register. We can also liaise with the UK Passport Office to confirm an individual’s passport number, given their current name and address.

There are a number of other searches related to this for foreign nationals. For example, we can check whether their national identity card and/or passport is valid and hasn’t been lost or stolen. Alternatively, we can check against a national identity register where one exists. We can also verify the authenticity of any machine-readable foreign passport (and certain other ID cards, driving licences and visas) to make sure it’s not a forgery.

The guiding principles in all identity checks are three-fold. Firstly, there’s the need to check that an identity document is for the person we believe it to be for. The second is to validate that the document is legitimate. And the final step is to physically verify that the person in the document’s photograph is the person being checked (as we never meet the individual personally, this is something that remains the responsibility of the employer). Without all these steps operating in tandem, an individual may be able to pass off someone’s else documentation as their own or fool the employer with a sophisticated forged document.

Establishing someone’s true identity and, by extension, their nationality is a critical part of ensuring that someone has the right to work in the UK, or any country for that matter.

When establishing an individual’s right to work, it’s important that the proper procedure is followed for obtaining, verifying and copying the relevant identification documents. Interestingly, there’s no legal requirement to check whether documents are forged, although this clearly makes sense from the perspective of avoiding employing a fraudster. Using our expert knowledge of the Home Office rules, we can audit the documents provided to ensure that they do indeed prove an individual’s right to work.

Being able to prove that this procedure was followed is what grants an employer its Statutory Excuse; the defence that can be used if it subsequently transpires that they unknowingly or unwittingly employed an illegal worker. With the fines for employing an illegal worker running to as much £20,000 per worker, it’s a procedure that should be adhered to rigorously.

Is Verifile’s Digital Identity Check Service available?

Verifile’s Digital Identity Check Platform is live already servicing hundreds of customers and delivering the expected results.

Is it mandatory to use the Digital Identity Checks for DBS or RTW?

No. Employers cannot force candidates to use Digital Identity Checks and some candidates won't meet the requirements. It is therefore important to have an alternative non-digital solution available. Verifile offers a Conditional RTW check service to fulfil that requirement. However, if the service isn’t available, employers will either have to revert to in-person / face-to-face ID checks for Right to Work purposes or continue to check remotely by video link. In this case, the employer will need to ensure they are in possession of the candidate’s original documents. For DBS checks, there is currently no need for employers to revert to in-person identity checks.

Can we continue to do remote checks on copies of documents?

Not since the 1st of October 2022. Temporary measures were introduced during the pandemic to enable remote ID checks via video link. This process allowed employers to use copies of documents rather than originals. The temporary measures ended on 30th of September 2022. Since then, employers will need to be in possession of the candidate’s original identity documents. Temporary measures were introduced during the pandemic to enable remote ID checks via video link. This process allowed employers to use copies of documents rather than originals. The temporary measures will end on 30th September 2022. After that, employers will need to be in possession of the candidate’s original identity documents.

Are Digital Identity Checks free?

No. A small transaction fee is applied wherever the digital identity service is used. This fee is separate from both the DBS fee, and from the admin fee.

Does the Digital Right to Work check apply for all areas of the UK including Northern Ireland and Scotland?

Yes. The Digital Right to Work check is compliant with Home Office guidelines for employers throughout the UK.

Will Digital Identity Checks cover all candidates?

No. In some cases in-person checking will still be necessary, so employers need to be prepared for this. According to government guidance, Digital Identity Checks can only be used where individuals are able to use UK and Irish passport (in date). Non-UK/Irish passport holders will need to have their Right to Work status verified using the Home Office Right to Work checker by providing a share code – the employer will still be required to have the candidate’s original documentation in their hands while in the presence of the individual for the Right to Work check to be compliant. Verifile does have a conditional Right to Work check to assist employers with this process. For DBS checks, the digital pathway will be possible for anyone holding an in-date passport from any country (as long as their address can also be verified by a UK driving licence and/or a digital verification with a credit referencing agency for example). Verifile’s platform enables candidates and customers to revert to non-digital solutions to support individuals who are not willing or able to utilise digital identity checking for both DBS and UK Right to Work checks. In phase 2 of this project in early 2023 (or sooner if possible), Verifile will also add the option for individuals to visit a Post Office branch. This will aid some individuals who may not have a smartphone or generally nervous about using the technology.

Can candidates use an expired passport for Digital Identity Checks?

No. Only valid in-date (not expired) passports can now be used for both digital Right to Work and DBS checks. This is a new Home Office requirement that has been introduced as part of the move to enabling digital checks.

Can candidates who don’t have a British passport use a passport from any other country for digital Right to Work and DBS checks?

Only UK and Irish passports can currently be used for Digital Right to Work checks. For DBS checks international passports are accepted.

Will candidates have to complete two checks if they need both Right to Work and DBS checks?

No. User experience is very important for Verifile so a special “combo” check was created to allows eligible candidates to meet the requirements for both Right to Work and DBS identities in one go.

Will we be able to use Digital Identity checks for Disclosure Scotland applications?

Yes. This functionality will be added in phase 2 of this project in early 2023 (or sooner if possible).