REC Guidance

Recruiting & Checking Staff & Temporary Workers

The following is an explanation of why we are asking our applicants (both permanent and contract) for proof of identity.

Identity checks - why do I need to check the identity of a work-seeker?

Employment agencies: The Conduct Regulations only require employment agencies (which introduce candidates for direct engagement by clients) to confirm identity when introducing candidates for roles working with vulnerable persons.  However, there would be reputational issues for an agency which did not check the ID of all candidates it introduces to clients.

Employment businesses: Under Regulation 19 of the Conduct Regulations, employment businesses (which supply temporary workers) are obliged to confirm the identity of all work-seekers before introducing or supplying them to clients. The checks to be carried out will depend on whether the work-seeker works through a limited company or not.  Importantly an individual working through a limited company can opt out of the Conduct Regulations provided s/he does not work with vulnerable persons.  Where a valid opt-out has been given the Conduct Regulations ID check requirement does not apply.  However, as above, clients would probably still expect you to check the ID of the work-seeker you were supplying.  

What documents? There isn’t a definitive list of documents that must be checked for ID purposes, but you can check an individual’s identity by viewing a passport, driving licence or long form birth certificate, a utility bill or other form of identification. However, the expectation increasingly is that you will have seen some form of photographic ID. Generally speaking the best document for this will be a passport since this is also the first port of call when verifying whether an individual has right to work in the UK.  Where a work-seeker does not have a passport or photographic driving licence you can check some other form of ID documentation such as a long form birth certificate (not the short form).  Importantly, a National Insurance number or card is not by itself confirmation of identity or the right to work.

Is an ID check the same as a right to work check? No, an ID check is not the same as a Right to Work check and is not sufficient to establish a defence to an allegation of employing an overseas national who does not have a right to work in the UK.  Further information on Right to Work checks is available here.

Record keeping: You should take copies of the documentation you check and store them securely (this is personal data which must be handled correctly – see Data Protection.

More FAQs on the Conduct Regulations can be found here.

We have also produced two factsheets on the Conduct Regulations:

The Conduct Regulations – an explanation
A guide to opting out of the Conduct Regulations

More information about how identity checks are carried out can be found here.

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