Pre-employment screening

Use our guide to take you through all the essential steps

First published on Monday, Oct 05, 2020

Last updated on Friday, Jul 02, 2021

As an employer, you have the right to perform employee background checks. But you need to follow current UK employment laws to avoid any legal pitfalls.

If you stick to the law, then pre-employment checks in the UK may prove an important part of your recruitment strategy. Because this is such an important process to get right, you can call us on 0800 470 2432 for immediate support.

And we also have this guide to take you through the finer details. So, what do you need to need about setting up a process? Let’s take a closer look.

What’s pre-employment screening?

It’s a set of procedures that decide whether a job candidate is suitable for work at your business. Basically, it’s a security check.

UK employee checks are increasingly common and help to make sure a candidate is eligible and suitable for a role.

In fact, they’re particularly important for some industries where you need to know you’re hiring reliable and trustworthy staff.

Your employment duties

There are three duties you need to be aware of. These are:

  1. Make sure everyone you hire has the right to work in the UK.
  2. Choose suitable candidates with the right.
  3. Remain compliant with all relevant UK legislations.

What do pre-employment checks consist of?

An essential check by UK law is to verify whether a candidate has the right to work in the country.

If you don’t perform employment background checks in the UK, and it turns out someone you hire doesn’t have the right to work here, then you could face a fine Up to £20,000 per worker.

In other industries, employers have to perform CRB/DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) background checks to see if a candidate has a criminal record.

This is particularly important where new starters will work with children or vulnerable young adults.

But what are other pre-employment checks? These include:

  • Former employer references.
  • Character reference.
  • Understanding gaps in employment history.
  • Identity and address.
  • Credit history.
  • Health checks (particularly important if you’re hiring an individual from abroad).
  • Online and social media checks.

However, when you run any of these checks you should make sure you’re not discriminating against any candidates.

Under the Equality Act 2010, there are nine protected characteristics to be aware of:

  1. Age.
  2. Disability.
  3. Gender reassignment.
  4. Marriage and civil partnership.
  5. Race.
  6. Religion or belief.
  7. Sex.
  8. Sexual orientation.
  9. Pregnancy & maternity.

Obviously, you can’t choose to not hire someone based on any of the above. It must be for a genuine and serious reason (such as an extensive criminal record).

You must also carry out all checks under the seven data protection principles of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). These are:

  1. Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency.
  2. Purpose limitation.
  3. Data minimisation.
  4. Accuracy.
  5. Storage limitation.
  6. Integrity and confidentiality (security).
  7. Accountability.

What’s the vetting process for employment?

Employee vetting consists of an employment background check in the UK. And this usually begins with a candidate’s application—their CV and cover letter.

You should review these documents. And then consider checking their social media accounts, such as LinkedIn.

The next stage is to hold a phone interview. As an employment check, this is pretty standard in most industries. You can get a sense of the candidate’s character from the conversation you have.

The next stage is an interview. But you can hold this in a variety of ways. Such as:

  • In-person: The traditional meeting room discussion over the candidate’s abilities and experience.
  • Panel interviews: A thorough approach, but a highly effective pre-employment screening in the UK approach.
  • In-depth assessments: Such as an audition day or skills tests to check out the candidate’s range of abilities.

You can use one or more of the above. After this stage, you should begin more detailed testing. This can include the verification of:

  • A candidate’s background, including criminality checks.
  • Education history.
  • Previous work performance.
  • Previous roles and employer references.

Next up, you can make a conditional job offer for extra security. This is where you make a job offer, but the candidate will only get the role if they meet the right conditions. This can include:

  • References from previous employers.
  • Criminal record checks.
  • Gaining and/or checking qualifications.
  • Medical exams (although these are pretty rare for businesses to need).
  • Proof to work in the UK.

You can also add a probation period once you hire the employee. This way you can monitor their work performance when they start in their role.

The benefits of pre-employment checks in the UK

Other than ensuring compliance with UK laws, there are a number of advantages to your background checks. So, what are they? They include improvements to your:

  • Quality of hire—the more thorough you are, the better the talent you’ll hire.
  • Commitment to workplace health & safety.
  • Regularity compliance.
  • Hiring risks—you lower the risk of recruiting a difficult employee.
  • Employee retention rates.

Simply put, the more thorough you are the better the hire you’ll make.

The knock-on effect for this is a positive work environment where productivity is high and your staff members commit to their roles.

Do you like the idea of that? Well, get in touch on 0800 470 2432.

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