Saturday 12 January 2019

RIP IDA – 12 years after promising an on-line way for employers to check the right of a prospective recruit to work in the UK, the Home Office introduces a partial service based on unproven technology

No need to say it, it goes without saying, it should be obvious to all but,
just in case it isn't obvious to all,
IDA is dead.

IDA, now known as "GOV.UK Verify (RIP)",
is the Cabinet Office Identity Assurance programme.
And it's dead.

"If Verify is the answer, what was the question?"

The Law Commission: "Verify does not currently ensure that the person entering the information
is in fact the person he or she is purporting to be;
rather it focuses on verifying that the person exists" (para.6.67/p.119)

Online right to work checks – that's a press release, by the Home Office, 14 December 2018: "Employers will be able to rely on an online Right to Work Checking Service to demonstrate compliance with illegal working legislation".

Pretty good, you may say, well done the Home Office, very 21st century, faced with a prospective recruit how does an employer establish their right to work in the UK? Answer, on-line.

Modern. Quick. Efficient. Definitive.

Or is it?

Cast your mind back. Cast it back before yesterday. And even before 14 December 2018. Cast it back exactly 12 years, all the way back to 14 December 2006, when the Home Office published their first so-called Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme.

Turn to Annex 1 on p.25 and you'll see that the Home Office planned strategically for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to have an "enhanced employee checking service available for employers" six months later, in June 2007.

In the event it took 12 years. Not six months. 12 years.

It's 11 years since DMossEsq wrote about this matter, Not working in the UK. "Why hasn't this strategic action been performed by IPS [the Identity and Passport Service as was, now Her Majesty's Passport Office]?", he asked in January 2008, and "Is there perhaps a problem with the biometrics?".

The Home Office have given us no reason in the interim to believe that the biometrics their employee checking service depends on are reliable ...

... but rely on them they do, as they told us in last month's press release: "The online Right to Work Checking Service can be used by non-EEA nationals who hold biometric residence permits or biometric residence cards ...".

Even after 12 years that little matter remains outstanding, we're not quite there yet, there's an on-line service but we can't be sure that it identifies prospective employees reliably.

And the service isn't universal.

It doesn't handle any non-EEA nationals who don't have these cards, it doesn't handle all EEA nationals and UK nationals without a passport can supposedly demonstrate their right to work by producing "short birth or adoption certificates, which they can get for free, instead of the long versions".

Surely GOV.UK Verify (RIP) could help to assure employers that the person in front of them is who the birth certificate or plastic card or permit or passport says they are and has the right to work in the UK? Apparently not.

Maybe in another 12 years.

In the meantime, Penalties for employing illegal workers: "You can be sent to jail for 5 years and pay an unlimited fine if you’re found guilty of employing someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ didn’t have the right to work in the UK".

Good job (sic) there's no hurry.

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