A time-saving shortcut that guarantees compliance?
We all like a shortcut. And in recruitment, where you’re vying with countless competitors – from the big boys with their endless buying power and instant recognition, to the niche recruiters you gauge your reputation against – time is always of the essence. Yet you have to keep client and candidates happy, as well as pip your competitors to the post. With all that pressure, failing to keep to the government guidelines too appears to be one risk some companies are prepared to take.
Many of you will have been working in this industry for 20 years or more. Back then, before the government started making demands, you’d take a few references on a candidate, maybe run a credit check and then send them out to work. Nowadays, it’s all about accountability, compliance and all this amounts to additional expense and time.
Checking someone really is who they say they are and that they have the right to work in the UK, for the sort of job you’re recruiting for, can be challenging. It’s a hassle. So most people do the bare minimum: a quick photocopy of a passport, then sign, date and file it.
How many think about or may not understand the risk of what happens if the bare minimum approach backfires? A £20,000 fine for passing someone attempting to work illegally in the UK. Prosecution, reputational disaster and lost clients. Get it wrong more than once and it could be very expensive, these fines are per illegal worker. You can be certain the bare minimum approach can and does expose your company to unnecessary risk.
You’ve seen quite a few passports now, so you probably think you know what to look out for. It’s only natural to become a little blasé about it all. Do you know what each of the European member states’ ID cards /passports look like? Could you tell a fake? How about all the various visas? And there are about 20 valid UK passports…. Do you know them all? Did you know that expired passports can sometimes be used legitimately as ID?
Example front covers of European passports (Croatia still needs additional blue registration certificate for right to work)
It begins to get rather worrying if you start looking at all the possible pitfalls, and the penalties for a quick ‘n easy approach to compliance.
As with virtually any other business challenge, there’s technology available that will keep you on the straight and narrow. In fact, you can have this technology using electronic checks in your very own office for far, far less than you’d pay for a single fine. For those who want to reduce their risk, there’s software that’ll carry out a basic MRZ check. For those who want to wipe out risk and stand out from the competition, you can have complete ID authentication – checking infra-red, ultraviolet, visual and RFID chip data - within a few seconds. How much you invest in a solution depends purely on how much you value your reputation.
Who among us enjoys spending time and money updating all the relevant staff on the continuing changes regarding immigration law and employment? Who would be vulnerable if just one or two people – the ones with all the expertise – left the company?
Right now, those companies investing in technology to carry out ID checks have an impressive selling point for clients; a competitive advantage that offers added value in the relationship and serious peace of mind for everyone involved. Already, there are some public sector staffing frameworks which insist preferred suppliers use electronic document validation solutions. How long before all public sector suppliers are forced to validate their recruits in this way? In the future, well, using the right technology could even end up a legal requirement.
Some say the risk of fraudulent documents and the resultant penalties are low, but between 2008 and 2013:
- £93,000,000 fines were issued (yes million!)
- More than 10,000 companies affected
In the first 6 months of 2014 there were 1,235 penalties worth £10.3million – and this was before the fines increased from £10,000 to £20,000 in May 2014.
And you can get documents in most cities from as low as £50 as per a recent article in the Mail (click here to read) – can you afford to take a chance?
For the moment, understandably, many people resist change. View any outgoing as a cost rather than a benefit. Turn the photocopier on once again!
How do you feel? Which shortcut do you put in place? Photocopy, sign and file? Or, use technology solutions available to scan, conform to the latest Home Office guidelines and be sure of compliance?