Pre Employment Background Checks – Screening New Employees

Many different types of job need pre employment background checks in order to screen new hires for suitability. Many of these are legal requirements for some roles, others are to ensure the business gets candidates that are the right fit.

Our guide looks at what types of employee background checks are done, and what the screening process might show up.

We’ll also look at what you can expect if you are asked to do background checks before starting a new job.

What are Pre Employment Background Checks?

Background checks made by an employer are a way to get further information about a job candidate and ensure they are suitable for employment.  

These checks are there to make sure you are a good candidate for the job, and don’t pose any risk to the business or any of their clients. 

If you are asked to fill out a pre employment screening form before starting a role, it’s important to make sure you disclose everything you need to in an honest way. Failing to do this might cause you issues down the line in your new job, or mean you don’t get the role at all.

What Pre Employment Background Checks Do Employers Use?

Some checks that would almost always be made include an employer checking your references with previous employers, and checks to confirm your right to work in the UK.

Depending on the type of job you’ve applied for, your employer might also want to confirm your suitability for the role by doing a criminal background check, or looking into your financial history.

Background screening checks can include:-

Some of these pre employment background checks may be unfamiliar. Let’s take a closer look at the checks which look a little deeper than proof of qualifications and routine referencing.

Right to Work in the UK Checks

Recent law changes mean that every potential employee must show evidence of their right to work in the UK. A business must conduct these checks. If they are found to have employed an ineligible worker, they can face fines of £20,000 for each offence.

Even if you are a British Citizen you can expect to have to show proof of your right to work. Documents you may be asked for include your passport or birth certificate. You must provide original documents to your employer, who will need to keep copies on file.

Criminal Record Checks

People working with vulnerable adults or children, or in professions which might involve handling sensitive data may need to undergo a DBS check.

There are several levels of criminal record check, with more sensitive roles needing a more thorough look at police records.

Eligible cautions and convictions which are unspent will show up on a dbs check. However, some types of offence are considered protected and are eligible for filtering after a qualifying period. This means that some old offences will not feature on  your DBS.

However more serious convictions such as those involving supply of drugs, sexual assault, or extreme violence will always show up. Any offence which results in a prison sentence of more than 48 months will always show on a criminal background check.

Driving Record Checks

If your new role involves driving, usually in a company vehicle, then your employer will wish to make a check of your driving record.

This type of check will need you to provide your driving license to your employer. They’ll then verify your license is valid, and get information on which vehicle classes your license allows you to drive. Other checks will be done to show traffic offences.

Financial Background Checks

Employers carring out pre employment financial background checks are usually within the financial sector. However, increasing numbers of employers are including credit checks as part of their due diligence.

These checks into your financial history will look at CCJs, and any other debt related issues such as voluntary arrangements, or past bankruptcies. In some roles, a CCJ would mean a job application being declined. This is to comply with financial sector regulations, as well as in house requirements.

Electoral roll checks might also be done to confirm your address.

Drug Testing

Some roles will require pre employment drug testing. The tests involve giving a sample of urine, hair, or blood to test for drug use.

Hair testing can reveal past drug use, and employers are allowed to refuse to employ an individual based on abuse of drugs and / or alcohol.

Some employers run drug screening to reduce the risk of employing a less productive member of staff.

Medical Screening

Some employers will ask prospective employees to take pre employment medicals. However, these medicals should only be used to make sure someone is fit to do their new role. For example, a job that involved a lot of lifting and carrying.

Any medical screening should not ask questions about health or disabilities, as this type of information cannot be used to decide on someone’s suitability for a job.

Being denied employment on the basis of a medical condition could be considered disability discrimination.

Background Checks & Your Rights

There are a number of rights which you should be aware of during background screening before starting a job.

GDPR & Pre Employment Checks

Any background check is going to involve employers handling a lot of private data relating to potential hires.

GDPR rules mean that they must obtain, process, and store the data appropriately. Failure to do so can result in large fines.

If you are asked for personal data in order to conduct background checks your employer must have:-

  • A legitimate reason for the collection of information about you.
  • Your consent to collect the data.

All data collected should be accessible to employees, and stored securely to prevent data breaches or theft.

Disclosure of Criminal Background

If pre employment screening includes a request to make a statement about a criminal record, it is important to understand what you are obliged to disclose.

If  you have a criminal record and the offence is spent, you do not have to disclose it. An enhanced DBS check will show spent and unspent convictions, however recent changes to rules means that some types of offence are eligible for filtering. This means that they will also not show in a DBS check.

Understanding your criminal record and what you need to disclose can be confusing. This guide about when and how to disclose to employers has good information about how to deal with having a criminal record when seeking employment.

Disclosure of Medical Information

Disclosing information on a medical condition before commencing employment can be a tricky call. However,  the short answer is that you aren’t obligated to disclose a disability to an employer, and they aren’t allowed to ask you about them.

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