The Legalities Of Employer Checks
With so much information readily available online (some of it public and some accessible for a fee), applying a background check on an employee can be confusing to both employers and the employees (or candidates). To help set the record straight, this article will focus on the legalities of employer checks.
As a rule of thumb, if you are an employer, it’s important that you let any candidates or employees know what type of background checks you will be doing. Transparency is crucial for effective recruitment.
Proof of Residence
During the recruitment process, one of the very first things that an employer will request from a potential candidate is a form of identification. Identification documents (such as a passport or a Visa) will help an employer to establish whether one is eligible to work in the UK.
Criminal Record Checks
Criminal record checks are standard practice in most industries. Here, an employer will do a background screening called a DBS check. DBS checks are compulsory if any employee (or a volunteer) wants to do anything of the following:
- Work with young people or vulnerable individuals
- Work in a field that brings you into regular contact with children or vulnerable groups
- Apply for a licence to drive a taxi
- Work with controlled drugs
Before a DBS check can be administered, the candidate will need to fill in an AccessNI application form and return it to you for processing.
Health checks are only a legal requirement for those whose role will rely on their good health. For example, commercial vehicle drivers will need to prove that they have passed their eye test.
Many industries do, however, make health checks a standard part of the job application process and this is most often for insurance purposes.
Before you action any health checks, you need to get written consent from the candidate in question before asking for a report from their doctor. Candidates are allowed to see this report, and ask for it to be changed or withheld from you.
As an employer, one should also not to discriminate (for example, by only employing those with excellent health reports for a position that does not require one to be in excellent health).
If certain qualifications, training or licences are required for a role, then as an employer, you can ask for proof of these qualifications. Employees need to be notified that these documents will be kept on file.
Reference checks are often done before an employee has been officially hired. While a candidate does not have to supply a recruiter with references, they generally enhance the chances of being selected for a role.
Important to note: If a previous employer refuses to give you a reference, you may be able to claim for discrimination.
Equal Opportunities Monitoring
There is no law against collecting information on race and ethnicity during the hiring process. In fact, many employers like to do this type of check so that they can monitor the effectiveness of their equal opportunities policy. However, individuals are not legally obligated to provide you with this type of information.
Remember – organisations are not allowed to treat anyone differently because of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion.
What You Need to Know About Data Protection
Employers should only gather information that’s relevant to the check that they need to carry out. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that any use of personal information concerning employees complies with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.
All employment records must be kept secure and you need to remember that employees have a right to see the information that’s held on them at any time.
An employer must provide you with access to your full file within 40 days of your request and may charge you a fee of up to £10.
Where to Get Help?
The Check People can provide you with all of the information you need when it comes to administering legal background checks. We can also run checks for you to ensure all procedures are followed correctly. Please contact us for more information.