Right to Work: protecting your Recruitment Agency


According to current Home Office guidance, if you’re placing temporary staff and remain their employer throughout the contract, you have a legal responsibility to check their Right to Work in the UK. So that means carrying out satisfactory pre-employment screening and confirming that workers are legally entitled to work in the UK.

As a diligent Recruiter, I’m sure you already have a process for checking candidates and that you’re aware of the risks of employing illegal workers, including significant financial penalties, reputational damage and increased risk of fraud. However, the first step in any Right to Work process which will reliably protect your business is to ensure that the documents you’re seeing are genuine. And if you’re making a manual inspection of documents, that’s no easy task, with countless different identity documents issued globally and many thousands of fraudulent ones in circulation.

The good news is that simple technology can help: it already helps hundreds of recruitment businesses check hundreds of thousands of identity documents annually. We’re one supplier who supports many of those with our online validation technology, backed up by our expert helpdesk team who see hundreds of suspicious identity documents from our customers every year. Some of our recruitment customers validate just temporary staff, and others have made the decision to run checks on all candidates, to give them a further competitive advantage and extend the protection to their customers.

When we analysed the documents validated by our customers in the recruitment sector over the last two years, we saw some interesting trends which I think demonstrate that the need to have robust document validation as the first step in a Right to Work process has never been greater:

The number of fraudulent identity documents is growing

Between 2017 and 2018, the document analysts who work in the TrustID helpdesk team saw a 55% increase in the number of fake and fraudulent identity documents identified by our technology.

The growth in fake IDs from the recruitment sector was even greater, at 83% year on year.

One Recruiter found more than 50 fraudulent ID documents in 12 months and with the maximum fine of £20,000 per illegal worker, those 50 fraudulent candidates could have cost them and their clients £1 million!

Recruitment agencies find a high number of fake documents

Our customers working in recruitment, construction and payroll/umbrella services have identified more fake documents than any other sectors over the past two years.

In 2017, recruitment agencies accounted for 19% of all fraudulent documents, but during 2018, they found 22% of all fake IDs, which our helpdesk team saw.

Fake IDs claim to come from all over the world

In 2018, our recruitment customers identified fraudulent ID documents purporting to be from 26 different countries across Europe and beyond, particularly passports, visas, ID cards and biometric residence permits (BRP).

Right to Work

What’s more, just because a candidate claims to hold a British document, that doesn’t mean it’s genuine! 35% of the fake documents seen by recruitment businesses were fake British passports and BRPs – in fact, they saw more of these than any other identity document in 2018.

Our technology also identified a large number of documents claiming to be issued in France, Portugal, Nigeria and the Netherlands.

Right to Work

In our experience, when an applicant doesn’t successfully gain employment using a fraudulent identity document at one recruitment agency, they may simply head down the road to the next employer or recruitment agency and try again. Our helpdesk team have seen one particular identity document 5 times presented by the same person to 5 different potential employers. So, if your organisation doesn’t have a reliable way to identify the fake ID, you may be the unfortunate agency who takes the candidate on.

Regardless of what immigration policy may look like post-Brexit, to protect your agency and ensure that you remain compliant, it’s important to ensure that you continue to carry out thorough Right to Work checks. So, is now the time to review your process?

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