I've been working for a company for many years. They have sent an email to everyone to say they need to take a copy of everyone's passport for their records. Does anyone know if this is normal/required?
As has been said it's standard, both to verify identity and right to work. Penalties for not doing the checks are harsh. They need to show that they have checks in place and it's not their fault if someone slips through the net eg by providing false documents.
If you don't have a passport there are other combinations of documents that can prove your ID and right to work, but a getting copies of passports is an easy way to show you've done your best to do the checks as it's a one stop shop.