Overnight we saw a shift from face to face employer and job candidate interaction to remote, online or electronic engagement.  

Verifying job candidate’s identities remotely is a new challenge for many employers. Without being able to stand in front of a candidate, to hold their identity documents and review their proof of address, it’s more difficult to meet your regulatory requirements and verify that you are genuinely dealing with the person the candidate claims to be. Getting this wrong creates risk, especially in roles such as carers, coaches or delivery drivers dropping-off goods to the elderly or vulnerable.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and The Home Office both communicated early during the Covid-19 pandemic flexibility in their identity verification guidelines, and what they can accept for the purposes of remote employee onboarding.  

The gulf between what government departments advise employers to do and what is best practice is significant. UK employers should risk assess their approach, and while many are simply following the guidelines; equally employers are taking additional steps to reduce risk, and prevent fraud and compliance challenges later. 

After all get it wrong and the organisation is putting their employees, customers and brand reputation at risk. 

E-mailed Images 

The DBS announced employers can accept scanned candidate documents sent via email, or images sent over video calls. While this helps with the challenge of remote onboarding, it may not deliver the best candidate experience and doesn’t give hiring managers  the confidence they need that a candidate isn’t a bad actor. 

An out of focus image or, black and white photo or one that lacks borders is inadequate, which means the candidate must be asked to resubmit – which can impact their user experience. With lots of delivery companies battling for drivers and riders as e-commerce has increased, there’s plenty of potential employers to choose from. Having a bad experience with one means they just apply to another.

But even with a good quality image, you have no means of checking the image hasn’t been tampered, if it’s legitimate and wasn’t simply pulled from the internet at random. 

Manual Checking 

Checking identity documents manually raises questions too.   

How do you know it is a genuine document? Are the hiring managers you’re asking to validate those documents for Right to Work or criminal record checking purposes actually equipped to tell the difference between a counterfeit and the real thing?  

Even with training, it’s one thing to spot a fake document in your hands and another thing entirely to do it remotely. 

And with countless domestic and international identity documents to check, potentially at large scale during peak recruitment times, the task becomes even tougher – and this pressure increases the risk of human error. 

GBG Product Owner David Thomas said: “The importance of spotting inaccuracies in documents is fundamental to protecting your business from fraud. Our technology is continuously trained to ensure that even sophisticated document fraud is detected.” 


Perhaps more fundamentally, there is nothing tying these disparate, ad-hoc checks together into any kind of audit trail.  

If the DBS were to ask employers in two years’ time to prove they did their due diligence on candidates during COVID-19, a series of diary entries and poor-quality image scans probably isn’t going to satisfy them, and could result in penalties or damage to brand reputation. 


COVID-19 may be a watershed moment for digitisation, causing a greater shift to digital channels as employers and employees accept and embrace a new normal. 

The DBS and Home Office are both striving for greater digitisation and we expect the social changes driven by Coronavirus to accelerate the development of digital technology. 

At GBG we have seen first-hand how employers dramatically improve processes and reduce fraud by digitising their onboarding, and how the businesses that benefit most are those who are ahead of the curve. 

Whether you’re ramping up your remote onboarding to meet new recruitment demand or going digital for the first time, applying smart identity verification processes now, will pay dividends when the pandemic is over. 

Now is the time for businesses to take a step back and take a risk-based approach to identity verification.

GBG’s Commercial Director for Identity lead Pre-Employment Screening Services, Lee Hughes said, “Organisations are taking this as an opportunity to take a smart approach to enhance identity verification using technology.” 

“It’s very easy to put in a tactical quick fix that is potentially worse than what you had before and isn’t fit for purpose. Now is the chance to start moving in the right direction with a robust and sustainable alternative. As a country employing vast volumes of people each year, there is an opportunity to collaboratively evidence to Government that digitising onboarding is not just good, but can be better, quicker and more compliant than current manual/face to face guidelines.”

At GBG we are working with employers to introduce technology to enhance the process of identity validation, thereby reducing risk and enhancing safeguarding. Speak to one of our identity specialists to find out more.