UK updates guidelines for Right to Work digital identity checks

The UK government has issued updated guidelines for employers regarding Right to Work digital identity checks, particularly focusing on the use of digital identity service providers (IDSPs). Since April 2022, IDSPs have been permitted to conduct additional checks beyond standard passport and ID card verifications for British and Irish workers. However, the guidelines emphasize that employers may face risks if using IDSPs for documents other than valid passports or Irish passport cards held by British or Irish citizens. Employers cannot establish a statutory excuse against liability for civil penalties if IDSPs are used for checks other than those explicitly mentioned.

Note that does NOT affect Right to Rent checks.

Right to Work checks are part of the Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework (DIATF), which encompasses various identity verification initiatives, including Right to Rent and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. Employers have increasingly relied on IDSPs for pre-employment checks to mitigate fraud. The guidelines also introduce stricter penalties for hiring illegal workers and outline additional steps for checking different worker categories, such as sponsored workers for supplementary work.

In a separate development, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Maryland and Rutgers University highlights the inaccuracies and mistakes present in background check services commonly used by employers and landlords. The study, published in the Criminology journal, involved 101 participants in New Jersey. It compared background checks from both regulated and unregulated providers with official records linked to the participants’ names and fingerprints.

The study revealed that approximately 90 percent of participants had at least one false-negative error, indicating that criminal records or case depositions were not accurately recorded or were incomplete. Additionally, over half of the participants experienced at least one false positive error, with background checks producing incorrect data. The inaccuracies were attributed to factors such as mismatched or incomplete criminal records, misspelled names, incorrect birth dates, and confused aliases.

Assistant Professor Robert Stewart from the University of Maryland noted that these inaccuracies could unfairly limit individuals’ access to employment and housing. He suggested that the background check industry may require reform, possibly involving the use of biometric data to enhance accuracy and fairness.

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