10 Things to Know About Employment Background Checks in the UK
The performance of Employment Background Checks, also known as Pre-employment screening, is a vital part of the hiring process. It includes employers verifying potential employees’ backgrounds to ensure that they are hiring suitable candidates.
What 10 things do you need to know about Employment Background Checks in the UK?
1. There are 8 types of background checks conducted by commonly conducted by employers.
The 8 most common types of employment background checks are
An identity check is the first and most crucial check that is performed by employers. It is used to verify the identity and information provided by an applicant.
A basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, also known as basic disclosure check, discloses information about the unspent convictions of employees or potential employees. A basic DBS check is not specific and is available to anyone.
It is an in-depth background check used by employers, mainly for the screening of potential and current employees. It shows detailed information about a person’s criminal record, i.e., all warnings and cautions along with any spent and unspent convictions.
This test is used for the full disclosure of a person’s criminal record stored on the PNC or Police National Computer.
It checks if an applicant has been granted permission to work in the UK. This check is crucial for employers as they will be held liable for knowingly employing someone who does not have the right to work.
It is a check used to access applicants’ driving license information as stored with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Companies can face potential fines and penalties if they fail or choose not to conduct a DVLA check on a potential employee.
Alternatively known as Financial Background Screening, adverse credit checks are used to check the credit history like debt owed, late payments, etc. It is usually conducted on employees, either current or prospective, at sensitive positions in a company.
Anti-Money laundering (AML), Politically Exposed Person (PEP) and Sanction checks are used to prevent financial crimes like money laundering, financing terrorists, etc.
2. Background checks are mandatory for some industries, as per the law.
For example, FCA checks have been made mandatory by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in order to ensure that employees meet the required standards and qualifications. Another example can be compliance with the BS7858 standard for employees in the security industry.
3. New GDPR rules have been set out for employers on how to store employee data.
As a result of pre-employment screening employers end up collecting a lot of employee data. The new rules for the collection and storage of this data as an employer based in the UK are the following:
- Having a legitimate reason for the collection of information on a potential employee.
- Consent from the concerned employee or applicant must be received by the concerned applicant or employee before the collection of data.
- The stored data should be accessible to the employees if needed.
- Stored data should be secured from theft or data breach.
4. A DBS check cannot be requested for personal use.
As per the present regulations, only employers or recruitment companies can apply for a DBS check. But if required by an individual, third-party screening companies can offer basic DBS checks.
5. Employers may search applicants’ social media as a part of background checks.
Although, it is not a common practice, some employers may decide to take this step and base their hiring decision on it. Employers can face legal charges if they opt to include social media as a part of their screening process, as it is not allowed.
6. The time taken to process pre-employment screening differs with the type of check.
For example, processes like DVLA check and right to work check can be processed at an instant, while checks like an enhanced DBS check may require a longer processing time. At an average, the processing time for background checks in the UK is three to five days.
7. The significance of a background check depends on the industry or sector.
For example, a credit check is of more significance when screening an applicant for a financial position. Similarly, DVLA and criminal record checks may be of more importance when dealing with jobs which include driving.
8. The costs of the background tests differ based on the number of checks, the type of information required and the location of recruitment.
Some searches may cost more than the others because they may require access to databases that are not open to public.
9. Background checks do more than just distinguish between qualified and unqualified candidates.
By conducting background checks on applicants, companies ensure that the values of candidates align with the values of the company.
10. Most employers hire a third-party company for pre-employment screening or background checks.
Since background checks may require companies to search various databases, hiring a third-party company ensures that checks are carried out smoothly while fulfilling all the regulatory requirements.
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