Everything You Need to Know About Background Checks

Everything You Need to Know About Background Checks

In some roles, it’s essential for you to carry out a background check on a candidate before hiring them.

This can include positions which involve children, patients or high-level documents.

However, sometimes businesses just want to be a little more thorough in their process – which is absolutely fine.

In fact, hiring the wrong person can not only cost your business time and money, but it can also have a significant impact on your reputation and lead to unwanted lawsuits as well.

To help give you an idea of what’s required to complete a successful background check, I’ve put together a few do’s and don’ts for you to follow.

Always check an applicant’s right to work in the UK

According to gov.uk, every employer must check that a job applicant is allowed to work in the UK before you hire them.

You can be fined up to £20,000 if you can’t show sufficient evidence to support this.

Don’t discriminate

It’s vitally important that you don’t discriminate someone just because of their personal identifying information.

This can include not giving someone the job due to the candidate’s racial or ethnic background, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or any groups that may reveal some information.

Third-party screening companies like Sterling Talent Solutions can ensure that you only receive a report with job-related information.

This is a great way of ensuring that an applicant has been truthful on their CV and during the interview process.

Just make sure that you don’t use it to start routing into their personal lives, as this could land you in deep trouble if it affects your hiring decision.

Involvement in drugs and crime are red flags you can consider, whereas certain opinions voiced on social media channels like Twitter could be a sign of a candidate exercising their freedom of speech right.

Pro recruiter top tip

It’s easy to mix your personal opinion up with the facts of a thorough background check.

You should always remain unbiased when assessing applicants.

Some silly reasons not to hire someone include:

  • Their love of tattoos
  • Job hopping
  • No degree
  • Location

To help you make an informed decision, it’s always wise to either use a recruitment agency or get a current employee to offer an extra set of eyes during the interview stage.

Medical conditions shouldn’t matter

When a candidate fills out their medical information, you can’t then use this to discard their application.

You can only raise this information once you’ve made a conditional offer for the role to the said candidate.

Then you can work together to make certain changes to accommodate them on their arrival.

However, there are special circumstances where you’re able to discuss the information prior to the interview – such as if the candidate needs special assistance getting into the building.

You can only ask successful candidates for a health check before hiring them if the job requires it or it’s a legal requirement – including an eye test for a driving role.

Always detail any information about these checks in your offer letter and only proceed once the new employee has given you written consent – i.e. a signature.

Be honest and upfront

Before a candidate even sends their CV or application, you should make it very clear about your background check procedures.

Failing to address this early on may result in them either pulling out of the process and ultimately wasting your business a lot of time.

This can include carrying out basic credit checks for roles that involve finances and sensate information.

Or in a school, you’ll need to do a DBS check to ensure the safety of all pupils.

If an applicant isn’t successful on this basis, you should give them a reason why.

Although, if your business doesn’t necessarily need to check an applicant’s criminal record, it’s against the law to refuse to employ them because of spent convictions.

You can find out more about ex-offenders and employment here.

By including a section on criminal convictions in the screening part of the application, this gives a candidate an opportunity to be open and honest with you.

Always double-check information

If you or your HR team are carrying out the background checks in-house, get an agency like Coburg Banks to repeat the process.

You see, identity mishaps aren’t uncommon and it could result in you wrongly turning down an applicant.

It’s also worth asking a candidate to do their own checks prior to the report to make sure that their information on file with credit agencies is up-to-date and accurate.

This may help to eradicate any identity issues further down the line.

Handle data carefully

Following the introduction of GDPR stipulations on 25th May 2018, adhering to data protection rules is essential.

You should always check with an applicant, whether they’re successful or not, if they are happy for you to keep their information on file.

As a best practice, it’s always recommended to safely discard it after six months to reduce the impact of any breaches – should they occur.

Final thoughts

So there you are. Hopefully, this has given you an insight into what’s legal and what isn’t when it comes to background checks.

However, if you’re unsure on any of it, it’s always best to consult a reputable recruitment agency to help you with this side of the process.

After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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