Woman going through an online identity verification process
Dec 2022 | Background Checks | Employment checks
By Posted by Alina Howe-Jones

Digital Identity is quickly becoming the new normal. Are you ready for the next phase in digital vetting?

The transition from paper processes to online vetting really started back in 2008, with the introduction of “eBulk” to digitise Criminal Record Checks. Today, the hiring industry in moving into the next phase, taking candidate vetting and onboarding to new levels of digitisation through the expansion of Digital Identity.

The Home Office has taken onboard (pardon the pun) the challenges often faced by employers during the hiring process including Right to Work (RTW) checks and verifying a candidate’s identity documents, especially since Covid-19. Added to this burden is the current fast paced jobs market with increasing demands being made by employers and candidates alike for speedy results and easy to use technology. The GPG45 Identity Framework whilst swiftly allowing candidates to verify their ID it is not without its complications. If you’d like to learn more take a look at our thoughts on the UK Trust Framework and how it can help you to avoid any pitfalls.

We will be covering the key topics below:

What do you need to know about Digital Identity Checks?

Everyone is asking how easy is it to add this new trend into onboarding new candidates and is it all it’s cracked up to be? It’s not surprising that there is confusion about this new ‘magical’ identity check, which can eliminate one of the most onerous parts to background checking.

We’ve taken an extensive look into what this GPG45 Government Trust Framework[1] really entails. Many will allude to the simplicity of a Digital Identity Check and it being obtained by using technology to conduct a document and a liveness check. However, it is a little more complex than that.

Over the course of this article we’ve compiled more information and will be answering some of the questions we’re getting asked.

What makes up an identity within the UK Trust Framework?

Experian has taken an extensive look into what this GPG45 Government Trust Framework really entails and during our discovery many questions were raised. Getting to grips with these different requirements has certainly tested our grey matter!

Phil Blasdale, Head of Product from Experian’s HRDi Business Intelligence Division explains:

Our aim has always been to provide a best in breed service, speeding up the time to hire and improving the candidate experience. We have worked hard with industry parties such as the DBS Criminal Records Trade Body, DCMS & Home Office and we along with other leading screening companies have all been busily building IDSP into our solutions. It is really exciting and the start of the evolution of the recruitment market. Employers will be able to use technology and data to really change that onboarding experience.

Many will allude to the simplicity of a Digital Identity Check and it being obtained by using technology to conduct a document and a liveness check. However, it is a little more complex than that. So let’s explore what makes up an identity within the UK Trust Framework.

There are 5 key areas to focus on. Each element will be scored and give an overall confirmed identity profile. The 5 areas are:

  • Verification – Check the identity belongs to that person
  • Fraud – Check if the identity is at risk of fraud
  • Activity – Check the identity has existed over time
  • Validity – Check the evidence is valid and genuine
  • Strength – Evidence of the claimed identity

There are any number of profiles within the GPG45 (Trust framework) Digital Identity, meaning lots of ways of proving an identity. The candidate does not just need documents. Data is key to achieve the scores.

  • To process a Basic Criminal Record Check the LoC (Level of Confidence) will need to be ‘Medium’
  • To process a Standard or Enhanced Criminal Record Check the LoC will need to be ‘High’
  • To process a Right to Work (RTW) Check the LoC will need to be ‘Medium’

How do I go about choosing the right route for Digital Identity?

So, there is more to Digital Identity Checks than initially meets the eye, and so many different avenues a company can go down. Do you go directly to an Identity Service Provider (IDSP), such as Experian and conduct your own Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) checks, or do you rely upon RTW mobile app and background screening suppliers and their solutions? Which is the easiest route? Have a think about time to process, IDSP profiles, headcount, imposter check, hidden overhead costs, time to hire, candidate hiring attrition and a full legislative understanding.

Companies should be aware that Government IDSPs are not necessarily accredited for both RTW and DBS Criminal Record Checks – organisations can verify an IDSPs services through the Government Home Office website IDSP List of Suppliers[2], but remember that a lot of background screening suppliers will have partnered with IDSPs already. You cannot carry out a DBS IDVT check if the IDSP supplier is only accredited to carry out RTW verifications and be aware that some IDSPs only carry out an identity check and may not incorporate an imposter check – this is required in order to give you, when required, a full RTW statutory excuse.

Man assessing digital identity guidance

How should I interpret the guidance?

Some of the early adopters of this new service are raising their concerns and have encountered challenges. The guidance is open to interpretation and raises some key questions.

Can I use a RTW IDVT which has a medium level of confidence for a Basic DBS check?

This requires a medium LoC. To make this a little clearer, potentially yes, but this is a complicated grey area that the DBS are still considering and it would be under the proviso the IDSP provider is accredited for both DBS & RTW but be warned that not all IDSPs encompass a biometric chip reader to fully complete this journey and rely upon trained IDVT document verifiers. This can delay the process and incurs an additional manual step. You would also need to ensure you are compliant by following the DBS codes of practice, taking into account data protection, candidate consent and a have a full audit trail in order to mitigate any risk.

It’s a good question – DCMS are going to specify the output from the IDSP must stipulate that the check meets the requirement for a particular scheme. It is possible to do a RTW / DBS Basic Check in one sitting with a British Passport – the output then must stipulate it meets the requirements – this is a new piece of policy that will be introduced to overcome the challenge described.
Mark Sugden DBS Head of Identity from the Disclosure Barring Service

Will the IDVT check provide the employer with a RTW full statutory excuse?

Not necessarily. There are some IDSP providers who just carry out the actual identity verification check and as an employer in order to satisfy RTW legislative requirements you would need to follow on with an Imposter Check, if not carrying out an actual face-to-face check, in accordance with the Government’s Home Office RTW guidance which clearly states:

You must satisfy yourself that the photograph and biographic details (i.e. date of birth) on the output from the IDVT check are consistent with the individual presenting them for work.

Employers are going to have to factor this into their onboarding processes and clearly evidence they have carried this out in order to show they have obtained a full statutory excuse. Remember, as an organisation you must take on board that the process has reverted back to pre-Covid rules and you cannot expect to carry out all your checks remotely. This is difficult for some companies to comprehend and you are severely at risk of incurring a fine if you don’t comply. You must satisfy yourself that the photograph and biographic details (i.e. date of birth) on the output from the IDVT check are consistent with the individual presenting them for work.

How do I make sure my checks aren’t unknowingly discriminatory?

Employers conducting RTW remote digital checks might find British or Irish Nationals who can only supply an out-of-date passport or birth certificate. It seems strange that these documents haven’t been factored in, but some documents just can’t be digitally verified and there is a lack of credible data to validate this type of documentary proof. Should the Home Office consider removing these from their list of acceptable documents?

But then what happens if this is the only evidence a candidate can produce – discrimination comes into play and employers could be driven to treat some candidates unfairly, moreover the younger generation who often struggle to provide valid ID.

This also impacts candidates who are from outside the UK & Ireland who also have a right to work in the UK and don’t have a Share Code i.e. those who hold for example a Positive Verification Notice (PVN) or Certificate of Application (CoA) etc.

Digital RTW Checks are here but in the current model they are a barrier to British Citizens without passports getting jobs and unintentionally have made it easier for illegal workers to find work. We need to reform the Right to Work system to tackle the 1 in 5 British workers without passports and to close the loophole for illegals to post a fake birth certificate to an employer (with fake NI info). Digital criminal record checks began earlier this year but there is still confusion on (a) who does the check, is it the employer or the registered body or both (b) which check to do and (c) is it sufficient or do I need to see other documents?
Keith Rosser Chairman from Better Hiring Institute

How do I guard against imposters?

A company recently reached out for advice, as they had a candidate who lived over 220 miles away from their office and with the cessation of RTW Covid adjusted checks how could they verify their candidate’s expired passport.

Some IDSP’s have factored this into their service offering, by incorporating an external provider i.e. Post Office Checking Service but yet again does this pose a risk – is the person who has presented themselves one and the same reporting into work on day 1 and are you being compliant? The Government Guidelines[3] should be adhered to and an employer is responsible for carrying out a RTW check. An Imposter Check should be carried out to fully satisfy a RTW statutory excuse. Some RTW Mobile App providers have incorporated Imposter Checks into their solutions, thus making life easier for the Hiring Manager.

Click here to find out how Experian can help your business with identity and verification checks or contact us now.


[1] Good Practice Guide (GPG) 45 – How to prove and verify someone’s identity, Gov.UK
[2] Digital identity certification for right to work, right to rent and criminal record checks, Gov.UK
[3] Right to work checks: an employer’s guide, Gov.UK