Managing Background Checks

Managing Background Checks

Managing Background Checks

Every employer wishes to carry out a certain number of checks on a potential employee before hiring them. These checks vary from company to company and the job role. A careful and thorough knowledge of checking background is required before shortlisting the right candidate.

The following paragraphs highlight the key background checks UK that are carried out by organisations during their recruitment process. Various practical risks that need to be considered when offering employment are explained. Employers generally carry out background checks UK for security purposes. As a standard norm, an employer is liable to treat all applicants equally. The pre-employment checks are explained as follows:

Identity Verification

Identity Verification Checks are background checks conducted to verify one’s identity credentials. Showing and verifying your identity through your ID documents is the first thing to do before you are granted the Right to Work in the UK. To confirm one’s identity, he/she needs to produce a set of documents to confirm eligibility for the job. The set of documents generally includes a passport, a visa, and a work permit for foreigners who have recently entered the country, but it is best to consult the employer on a case-specific basis.


Employment references from your previous and/or current employers to your future employer can boost the chances of winning a job offer.

Equal opportunities monitoring

An organisation marketing itself as an Equal Opportunity Employer generally collects information on race and ethnicity while gathering data from prospective applicants. As there is no law that prohibits organizations from doing so, many organisations gather applicants’ personal data of such nature to monitor the effectiveness of their equal opportunities policy. However, no applicant is obliged to share any information of this nature if he/she doesn't want to. As a general statute of employment law, an employer must not discriminate between employees/applicants because of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, or religion.

Health checks

In some organisations, health checks are a mandatory requirement of the job. This is generally legally mandated in the documentation. Any information on health checks is made aware to the new employee in the offer letter. In case the employer asks for a medical report to be presented, one must ensure that the organisation has policies for keeping personal information of such nature secure for all intents and purposes.

A health test cannot be justified only based on a disability and there must be a good reason for it. If a candidate loses a job after being singled out for a health check, he/she can file a complaint with an Industrial Tribunal.

Treating people with disabilities any differently than regular people because of the former’s physical condition is unlawful. But this does not mean that a person with disabilities can take objection in response to a direct health check request, even if other candidates have not been asked. A lot of such things depend on the nature of the disability and specific work requirements.

Checking qualifications

Employers ask for proofs from applying candidates for qualifications required to apply for a particular job. They may carry these out in the form of education verification checks. Employers must make the candidates aware of any relevant checks that they may be carrying out and also if they intend to keep copies of relevant documents on system files.

Criminal record checks

For work profiles involving any of the following, a criminal record check becomes mandatory and a prospective applicant must clear the same.

  • Working with children or vulnerable adults
  • Being employed in a job which mandates the employee to always be in close contact with children or vulnerable groups
  • Driving license application
  • Working with drugs

A prospective applicant is required to complete an AccessNI application form (form for criminal records check) and share this with the employer, who will also check identity documents to cross-check all details mentioned therein.

Withdrawing a job offer

In the circumstance that any cross-verification check brings out unsatisfactory or undesirable results, an employer can withdraw a job offer even after the candidate has accepted it. This applies as long as the candidate was made aware of all conditions and clauses which were applicable to the job.

Data security

An employer should only ask for information that is necessary and relevant to checking background. The employer must also make sure that any use of personal information complies with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998. Employment records of a candidate must be kept secure and disposed of in accordance with this act once a change of employment occurs. In case of mandatory record-keeping norms at an organization, any personal records must be retained as per statutory requirements. A candidate has the right to view any information held on him/her. The employees must be allowed to see their employment records by a past employer within 40 days of requesting and on possible charges of up to £10.

Getting Help

Free advice and help can be sought from the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) and Advice NI. They also offer impartial advice on all employment issues. Also, trade unions give help, advice and support to all their members.

Social Media checks

The number of organisations using social media portals to research their candidate’s backgrounds is increasing every year. Social media checks have also been scrutinised by various surveying agencies and have been reviewed. As per the results, an average of one in five organizations make decisions based on social media profiles and the content on their social media portals. This is more likely in the case of large organisations. However, the following pointers must be noted.

  • Information on social media profiles might not always be true.
  • Information on a candidate’s social media portal needs to be confirmed and referenced carefully in case of multiple or duplicate sources.
  • Candidates should be allowed to respond to any information that hiring organisations have found online.
  • Any discrimination arising out of social media checks must be checked and legally reported.
  • Organisations must inform candidates beforehand if they are going to conduct social media checks during the hiring process.
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