Updated: Feb 24, 2022
Digital identity verification popularised during the pandemic will be made permanent with IDVT
However, uncertainty remains over elements of IDVT before it’s April rollout date
It is unlikely that organisations will have time to adjust to the changes, with teething problems for the new technology looking likely
Building on the temporary measures introduced due to lockdown in March 2020, the Home Office recently announced that Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) would be introduced for Right to Work checks from April 6TH this year.
The pandemic has shown that document validation technology works, and in the long-term Right to Work checks for British and Irish citizens will be simpler, more secure and faster than ever before.
There are, however, several major questions that require answers before the system is rolled out.
What Is IDVT?
IDVT will be the technology used by approved providers to authenticate ID documents (i.e. passports, driving licenses and, until 2024, biometric residence permits.
This technology will be available only from selected providers who have not yet been announced.
The digital ID will be available to use with Right to Work, Right to Rent, and DBS checks.
What Will The Benefits Be?
Since the pandemic, the benefits for both employer and candidate of using technology for ID verification have been numerous and clear to see.
The traditional method of document verification, when the candidate has to hand over the physical copy of the document for the employer to verify, had long been criticised as time-consuming and not the most effective way of detecting fraudulent documents. IDVT technology will ensure that no time is wasted in waiting for a physical copy of a document to be seen by an employer, particularly with the shift in many businesses to remote and hybrid working arrangements. The process of checking the documents themselves will also be faster, allowing the check to proceed faster and enabling the candidate to begin in their new role sooner.
Manually checking documents increases the risk of letting a fraudulent document slip through the net. This puts you at greater risk of receiving fines or becoming the victims of fraud. The main area of cost savings from this technology, however, is in the increased efficiency of the checking process. The time and resources that can be saved from using digital ID checking services mean efforts can be spent on delivering public services.
One of the many negative consequences of lockdown was a rise in ID fraud – with Onfido concluding that it rose 41% during 2020. The rise in the frequency and sophistication of fraud means that verifying documents with the naked eye is less and likely to identify fraudulent documents successfully. IDVT will utilise the most up-to-date technologies to ensure organisations across the public sector have the best possible chance of ensuring the safety of not only other staff members, but also people who use public services.
Questions to Answer
Time to Adjust (for providers and employers)
As it stands, the temporary measures currently in place for digitally verifying documents will no longer be permitted from April 6TH. This means that from this date, employers must register with an IDVT provider or revert back to in-person verification.
This would not necessarily be a problem if the providers were known, and if it was possible for organisations to have a proper process of selecting the best supplier for in advance. The reality, however, is that with the deadline less than two months away, the applications for providers to become certified IDVT providers only opened in mid-January. With the tender process still ongoing, and assuming that there is no delay to the April 6TH rollout, employers are not going to have a chance to prepare for the potential change in provider properly. It is also likely that employers will have to revert back to in-person verification temporarily while they transition to a certified provider.
In a period of severe staff shortages in the public sector, this will cause a considerable amount of unnecessary inconvenience to organisations who need to start people in work as soon as possible.
The other area of uncertainty is exactly how the process will work, both in terms of the processes involved (including what will be expected from employers and what would happen if the candidate could not provide the preferred document of a passport), and in terms of what rates will be charged to use the service. Pre-employment checks vary greatly in price depending on the service used and the type of check. It is unclear how much employers will be charged to use IDVT providers, making planning for many smaller organisations an unenviable task. Conclusions
IDVT has been widely welcomed by the business community as a way to standardise the temporary procedures that have proved popular during the pandemic, with their positive feedback a key driver of this proposal.
However, with any new system, it is likely that there will be teething problems from both the providers and the employers’ perspective. It is therefore essential that clarity regarding who the providers are and how employers will be charged is given very soon if the Home Office wants businesses to have faith and trust in the new system from April 6TH.
UPDATE: 24 February 2022
The Home Office's announcement of delaying the end of temporary ID verification until the end of September has been welcomed across the business community. It gives valuable time for businesses and public sector organisations to find and develop positive relationships with IDVT suppliers without the need to rush or revert back to in-person verification.
While there are some outstanding questions remaining, this continuation of the temporary solution gives valuable time for the Home Office to address them.
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