ID Verification vs. Right To Work Checks: What’s The Difference?

Written by
Euan Cameron
Last updated:
Created on:
March 3, 2023

It’s required by governments and a best practice. But that certainly doesn’t make verifying your employees’ identities any less, well, annoying

Until now.

Right-to-work checks and ID verification are a quiet but essential part of the hiring and onboarding process. And now they can be done digitally.

In this guide, you’ll learn: 

  • The difference between ID verification (IDV) and a right-to-work (RTW) check.
  • The use cases and benefits of a digital approach to IDV and RTW.
  • How you can easily digitize your IDV and RTW process.

What’s the difference between ID verification (IDV) and right-to-work (RTW) checks?

Both terms refer to the same practice: checking that someone is who they say they are—and that they are legally eligible to work for you.

Which term you use, though, is a question of geography. 

  • In the UK and Ireland, it’s called a right-to-work check.
  • Everywhere else in the world, it’s called ID verification (with some local variability in the United States).

The four problems with manual identity verification

Typically, identity verification has been a manual process. 

When a new employee starts at a company, they have to report in person to an office (regardless if the role is remote or geolocated). From there, an HR manager takes the employee’s passport or ID card, scans it, and sends it off to the relevant government office. They then get a confirmation about whether the person is legally allowed to work for the company. Process over. 

It sounds innocuous, but the manual nature of this process causes four key problems:

1. Time: This process is only a few minutes per person–which means it can take hours if a company is onboarding multiple employees at once. 

2. Risk: When companies conduct their own checks manually, they assume all risks. If someone used a counterfeit ID that somehow got past a government scan, you still have to pay the fines that might be imposed by the government. And that’s on top of employee turnover costs.

3. Employee experience: The last thing new employees want to do on day one is have someone question the validity of their passport. It’s not only a weird experience from a personal perspective but it also delays their onboarding, meaning they are on the clock but unable to work.

4. Remote work experience: If you hire a remote employee, do you really want to pay for them to come into your office for identity verification? They might come in person anyway for onboarding, but this precious time should be spent connecting with colleagues rather than filling out government paperwork.

A digital breakthrough 

In 2022, the Home Office in the UK came in line with other global governments in allowing third-party providers to conduct digital right-to-work checks. 

There is also a DIY option with the UK government for UK-located companies. However, this option doesn’t remove time, risk, or employee experience problems; it’s still fundamentally the same manual process with one step digitized. While this is useful for remote workers, it doesn’t help other employees or HR team members as much. 

Integrating digital identity verification into your hiring process

From a third-party perspective, a digital identity verification service needs to hit all four key areas: save time, reduce risks for companies, improve the onboarding experience, and function well for remote workers. 

This four-pronged approach became the foundation of Willo’s digital ID verification and right-to-work check services, which companies can implement in two ways.

1. Standalone identity verification

Companies globally purchase credits for ID verification and right-to-work checks, with pricing as low as £2/$2.50 per check. Candidates complete the verification process in a browser-based system, meaning no required app downloads for anyone. Recruiters can then review answers within their ATS or Willo dashboard. 

When you send the ID verification request, Willo handles everything: we collect relevant documents from candidates and check with the necessary government offices. We’ll take on the onus of verification and you don’t need to lift a finger.

2. Within a Willo interview

For Willo customers, ID verification and right-to-work checks can be added to any step in the interview process. We collect all the documents and will automatically upload the verification to the candidate’s file on your Willo dashboard. If you have any integrations set up, the information will sync up with your other platforms as well.

This not only saves you time but also dramatically improves the candidate experience. When you ultimately hire a new employee, Willo will have already verified their identity so day one can focus on onboarding, training, and making new connections. It also works perfectly for remote workers since they won’t need to show up with a passport or ID card in person.

Making recruiting easier for everyone 

We believe every interview software should make life easier for both candidates and HR teams. That ethos became the foundation of Willo and continues to inspire everything we build–digital ID verification and right-to-work checks are no exception.

Learn more about digital ID and right-to-work checks with Willo

Euan Cameron
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