Short term changes to regulatory guidance in the COVID labour market have enabled businesses to continue to operate through the implementation of digital or remote recruitment.

The UK labour market has been changed by COVID. The way businesses operate has been changed by COVID, and even after the recovery business will look different, needing to be more agile and modern. In response, we need an agile and modern labour market that enables employers to hire quickly, safely, and remotely, and enables workers to have flexibility in where and how they work.

The current Right to Work legislation enforces face to face checks which anchor the UK labour market in the past. This does not equal better safeguarding or security (as humans find it difficult to be sure about the validity of documents), except in the case of the Online Checking Service (OCS). This enables employers to check the right to work status of non-UK citizens online.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on digital identity produced an inquiry at the end of 2020 proposing long-term digital solutions to right to work checking. The Foreward was written by Dean Russell MP with the introduction provided by Reed. The aim of the Inquiry is to bring about digital right to work checking post-COVID.

The timing of this Inquiry is vital, the benefits are clear, the UK needs a digitally enabled labour market to catch up with many countries such as the Netherlands where this has long been the case, and to drive UK growth out of the COVID pandemic.

Right to Work continues to be remote with the clause that Home Office can revert to face to face with 2 weeks’ notice. The retrospective check must be carried out within 8 weeks of the COVID-19 measures ending. The Better Hiring Institute is working with partners to lobby Home Office & UK GOV to reconsider the longer-term position for employers conducting right to work checks, and the 8-week rule.

Campaign updates

22nd June 2021 - The Parliamentary events that took place on 9th and 21st June 2021 were received with great success. The events saw over 50 employers converge with MP's to voice why Digital Right to Work checks are vital.

Employers agree that work seekers should be able to prove their right to work digitally, and enjoy the freedoms to apply for work anywhere in the UK, work anywhere, and not be disadvantaged.

What's next?

- The Better Hiring Institute is running an employer's session with Home Office policy makers to outline the requirements of a digital solution.

- Our Chair Keith Rosser has been asked to provide a brief to MPs working directly with No. 10 on similar agendas.

- The brief from both sessions is being shared around Parliament to further the cause.

17th June 2021 - Return of physical right-to-work checks postponed to 1st September 2021. Although this is still a temporary adjustment and not a yet a permanent solution, this is a good outcome for UK employers and demonstrates that the lobbying of industry bodies is being heard.

2nd June 2021 - The Better Hiring Institute is delighted to bring two Parliamentary events. This is a chance to create meaningful change, and for employers to make the case for digital right to work checks.

The first event takes place on 9th June 2021 with an Audience with Lord Holmes to debate why the planned changes by the Home Office to physical right to work checks are a barrier to business, and the impact this will have on employers and job seekers. With speakers Keith Rosser Group Risk Director & Director, Reed Screening and Chair of The Better Hiring Institute, and Andrew Henderson Consultants Wychwood Consulting Ltd.

The second event on 21st June is an Audience with Dean Russell MP and the Digital Identity All Party Parliamentary Group on Employer Right to Work Checks - Chaired by Dean Russell MP. This event covers how physical right to work checks will limit the UK's ability to compete globally, the detriment to big business in the UK to recruit the right talent and drive economic growth after COVID, and the benefits of digital right to work checks to UK employers and work seekers. With Speakers Keith Rosser, Group Risk Director & Director, Reed Screening and Chair of The Better Hiring Institute, Darren Cornish People Service Director & Global Systems Thinking Lead, Aviva and Cathy Illingworth HR Manager, TSB.

18th May 2021 - Keith Rosser, Chair of The Better Hiring Institute and Director of Group Risk & Reed Screening, submitted a question to the Lords last week to push on the issue of retaining digital checks further. Following this, he supported members in the debate with the Minister of State for the Home Office for the House of Lords debate on digital checks:

- It's now recognised that physical right to work checks adversely impact UK nationals and their ability to find work

- It's now recognised that a permanent, digital right to work system is crucial.

Keith Rosser has been asked to write a concise report of the issue to special advisors of Home Secretary Priti Patel.

On 11th May 2021 following a lot of pressure from both outside and within government, the Home Office have announced a delay to physical right to work checks from 17 May to 21 June. Whilst businesses welcome the small victory in the delay of physical checks, there has been no confirmation of a permanent move to digital checks.

The Better Hiring Institute will continue to lobby Government for a permanent digital solution.

On 20th April 2021 The Home Office announced that from 17th May 2021, physical document verification is to be reinstated for UK employers.

Although on a positive the 8 week "retrospective check rule" has been abolished for candidates hired between April 20 and April 21 , which means they do not need to be re-checked.

But this is a huge blow and we see a step backward in hiring, which will cause challenges to recruitment, delays in hiring and a slow down for business, amongst many others.

Our Advisory Board Chair is working hard to lobby to Home Office and bring awareness of the negative impact that this will have on the UK labour market.

On 26th April 2021 we wrote to Special Advisers to Priti Patel in relation to last week’s announcement of the return to physical document checking.

We’re calling all employers to support The Better Hiring Institute’s campaign for right to work checks to be reviewed.