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Using digital ID to screen potential employees in the UK

Lord Holmes, Idemia urge policy change
Using digital ID to screen potential employees in the UK

Two stakeholders coming from different perspectives are encouraging the United Kingdom towards the adoption of a digital ID-focused screening process for potential and new employees.

The first perspective comes from Lord Holmes, who in a recent blog post highlighted the importance of digital ID document checks, particularly during the pandemic.

“The digital documents and online checks have been extraordinarily successful, facilitating the recruitment of half a million people during lockdown,” he wrote in a blog post. “But in March 2021 the Home Office announced a return to in-person checks.”

This term was then postponed first to June 21st and then September 1st, but Lord Holmes quoted Keith Rosser, director of Reed Recruitment, to suggest that a return to in-person checks will increase costs and cause delays, without reducing the risk of employment fraud.

Furthermore, following the return of in-person checks on September 1st, digital documents and online verification will remain for non-UK nationals.

This, Lord Holmes explained, will potentially create a situation where it is easier for UK-based businesses to hire non-UK nationals than UK nationals.

“These systems are more secure than face-to-face checks, will speed up the process and reduce the cost,” he said.

Lord Holmes concluded his post calling for the Government to step up his digital ID efforts.

“If the Government are truly serious about building back better then extending the temporary use of online right to work checks while it consults with HR, recruitment and technology professionals on a permanent digital identity scheme is an easy way to demonstrate that they are doing exactly that.”

Idemia hints at the future of ID verification

Idemia echoed Lord Holmes’ position in a blog post on the company’s site.

The biometric solutions provider said that, now that the country is emerging from the pandemic, UK businesses are looking to take on new employees.

Complicated regulatory obligations, including identity verification, can potentially pose various risks to employers.

“For British citizens, there are no government-issued identity documents as such,” the post reads. “Instead, the government has a set of standards that allow a person’s identity to be established digitally to a defined ‘level of confidence.’”

To tackle these issues, the UK government has recently published a draft version of a Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework, but related legislation will only take form between 2022 and 2023.

Until then, the only government-issued document in the UK currently classified in law as an ‘identity document’ is the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) issued to foreign nationals with the right to reside in the UK.

Moving forward, Idemia called on the government to speed up this process, in order to certify more technologies meeting the new digital standards and aimed at simplifying the remote hiring process.

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