Why should you carry out background screening?

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A recent case of a convicted child sex offender, whose job included delivering post to schools, has highlighted the importance of not only carrying out relevant pre-employment screening and background checks, but also having a robust administrative process. In this case, it appears that the appropriate Criminal Records Bureau (now Disclosure and Barring Service) check was completed, but the information was not passed on or acted upon. It is not sufficient to adopt a tick in the box approach to ascertaining details of a prospective employee’s criminal record.

But why should it be necessary to carry out such checks in the first place? Criminal records are just one potential aspect of pre-employment screening, which is becoming the norm as businesses try to minimise any risk when taking on new employees. Whilst the level of checks should be proportionate to that risk and the role being recruited for, it can be an effective way of validating the information provided by a candidate and can include:
  • Identity
  • Right to work in the United Kingdom
  • Education
  • Qualifications
  • Employment history
  • Criminal history
  • Social media activity
  • Financial/credit history

If an individual’s history includes something that is questionable, it is unlikely that it will be revealed during the normal recruitment process. If discrepancies are identified, it will be up to the employer to decide what action to take, but it is advisable to discuss with the candidate before any decision is taken. However, it may well be sufficient to view the fact that false information (application fraud) has been provided to withdraw any offer of employment. If it is a matter of legal compliance, such as right to work in the UK, there may be no choice.
It is good practice to complete all pre-employment screening before the individual commences employment. However, any offer of employment should be conditional on the outcome of any checks that are being carried out and verification of the information provided.

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