As an employer, ensuring that you hire the right person for the job is crucial. Conducting background checks on prospective employees can help you make informed decisions and create a safe and secure working environment. However, it's important to understand the legal requirements and best practices for conducting these checks in the UK.
Criminal Record Checks
One of the most common types of background checks is a criminal record check. In the UK, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) provides this service. Employers can request a basic, standard, or enhanced check depending on the nature of the job and the level of contact the employee will have with vulnerable groups. A basic check will show any unspent convictions or conditional cautions, while a standard check will also show spent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and final warnings. An enhanced check will show the same information as a standard check, as well as any relevant information held by local police forces.
Employment History, Education, and Professional Qualifications
Employers can also check an individual's employment history, education, and professional qualifications. This can be done by contacting previous employers, educational institutions, and professional associations. However, it's important to obtain the individual's consent before conducting these checks. Verifying an individual's employment history can help you confirm their work experience and ensure that they have the necessary skills for the job. Checking their education and professional qualifications can help you verify their credentials.
Credit checks are another type of background check that employers can perform. This is particularly relevant for roles that involve financial responsibilities. However, it's important to obtain the individual's consent and to ensure that the check is relevant to the job. A credit check will show an individual's credit history, including any missed payments, defaults, or County Court Judgements (CCJs). It can also show any financial associations they have, such as joint accounts or mortgages.
Social Media Checks
Social media checks have become increasingly popular in recent years. However, it's important to be cautious when conducting these checks as they can raise data protection and discrimination issues. Employers should only use social media checks to verify information that the individual has provided and should not use it to discriminate against candidates. It's also important to note that individuals have the right to privacy on social media, and employers must respect this. Employers should only access publicly available information and should not request an individual's login details.
Data Protection Laws
It's important to note that employers must comply with data protection laws when conducting background checks. This includes obtaining the individual's consent, only collecting relevant information, and ensuring that the information is kept confidential and secure. Employers must also ensure that they have a lawful basis for processing the information and that they do not discriminate against candidates based on their personal characteristics. In summary, employers in the UK can perform criminal record checks, employment history checks, education and professional qualification checks, credit checks, and social media checks. However, it's important to obtain the individual's consent and to comply with data protection laws. By conducting these checks, employers can ensure that they're hiring the right person for the job and creating a safe and secure working environment.