what is background checking?
A background check, performed by employers before hiring an employee, is a legal investigation that verifies the candidate’s background matches what they claim on their application form or CV.
Background checking confirms the information on a candidate’s application is true and nothing has been falsified. What is and isn’t checked varies depending on the industry and the associated risks with hiring the wrong candidate. For example, sectors where you might be working with young people or vulnerable adults would require a more detailed background check including a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.
benefits of using background checking.
The main advantages of background checks are twofold: You remain within compliance by conducting background checks, and you ensure employees are who they say they are. Why is this important?
avoid heavy fines
Requirements vary, though most sectors require organisations to perform a right to work check at a minimum. Failure of employers to do so can result in a fine of up to £20,000.
ensure applicant authenticity
A survey revealed that 10% of UK employees admitted that they included false information on their CVs. What’s more, 40% of employees admitted they embellished their credentials, especially as they pertained to their academics and work background. A background check will determine whether prior educational achievements, volunteer work, and prior employment are true. It’s all about risk reduction.
types of background checks.
There are several types of background checks, each with its own provisions. The job description and nature of the work will determine which ones are required.
criminal background check (DBS)
Most employment requires a background check. However, the check is always proportional to the position. For example, jobs requiring a lot of in-person interaction, such as social work or teaching in public schools, may require more extensive checks, such as a DBS check (also previously known as a CRB check). This is a check completed to confirm whether the applicant has a criminal record.
DBS provides three levels of checks:
- Basic DBS Check: This is also known as the Check or Basic Disclosure and includes the applicant's criminal history.
- Standard DBS Check: This is a more comprehensive criminal background check. In addition to criminal convictions, it also includes reprimands and warnings.
- Enhanced DBS Check: This is similar to the standard check but also includes information held by local police. Enhanced checks are usually required in positions involving direct work with children and vulnerable adults.
Instead of going through DBS directly, most employers hire third-party services to conduct the checks on their behalf. Such services will also know which check is most suitable based on your industry. This is important since regulations regarding checks update frequently.
It is also worth noting that applicants with a criminal history will likely still be eligible for some forms of employment under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA).
right to work check
This is required in nearly all forms of hiring. It ensures the applicant has the legal right to work in the UK. Organisations can be fined for failure to maintain documentation of active employees.
Health checks are a legal requirement for some forms of employment. The specific medical check also varies by industry. For commercial vehicle operators, for example, vision tests are mandatory.
The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) check is required in any position requiring the operation of a vehicle while working. Examples include traveling salespeople and couriers.
social media screening
This check ensures there are no posts that contain violent, sexual, discriminatory, or other explicit content. As a courtesy, employers are encouraged to warn applicants ahead of time and give them a chance to delete old posts that may be deemed inappropriate.
other background checks
Aside from the aforementioned above checks, other checks that may be required of job candidates include:
- Credit check
- International sanctions
- Sanctions check (UK)
- Employment references
- Educational references
when to perform a background check
There’s no rule regarding the hiring stage at which HR needs to perform a background check. However, it’s recommended that HR departments perform the check later in the recruitment stage when you have narrowed the candidate pool down to the applicants you feel are good fits for the company. This way, you only perform the check on a small number of prospects rather than everyone who turned in an application or only went through the initial group interview. This saves time, resources, and money.
background check disclosure
Early in the hiring process or in the job advert, make it known that applicants who make it to the final stages of the hiring process will be required to undergo a background check. Be detailed about what the check will include (e.g. criminal check, social media check, etc). Explain why this level of check is relevant for the role.
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