Background Check UK – All you need to know

Background Check UK.

Background checks are a typical part of the recruitment and pre-employment screening process in the UK.

In this article, we look to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding background checks in UK.

What background checks do UK employers use?

There are ten background checks that all UK employers consider throughout their recruitment process. These are:

  • Right to work check
  • Criminal record check
  • Employment references
  • Educational references
  • Credit check
  • DVLA check
  • Social media screening
  • Medical check
  • International sanctions check
  • UK sanctions check

How can I do a background check on someone for free in the UK?

Not all background checks in the UK are free of charge. In addition, unless you are an employer, you are limited to the background checks you can perform on an individual.

If you are an employer, you can perform all ten background checks on a candidate or employee (providing you have their consent and a justified reason). However, it should be noted that certain checks come at a cost, e.g. a DBS check.

For individuals who want to perform background checks on their partner, you should refer to Clare’s Law and Sarah’s Law (see ‘How to do a criminal background check on partner in the UK’, below).

You can use social media to perform background checks on someone, as the information is public* and there is no cost to use most social media platforms. However, some social media users may prevent certain information going online that could cast them in a bad light. Therefore, this method is not the most reliable.

*Some social media users may not have their information publicly available (e.g. private profile) and you should not attempt to access this information in an unlawful way.

What is involved in employment background checks?

Pre-employment screening involves a right to work check, a criminal record check, employment history verification and professional references. In instances where a candidate has not worked, an educational reference can be used.

In other industries, other checks are performed such as a credit check in the financial sector, or a DVLA check in the transport industry.

Most UK employers will have implemented most (if not all) the ten essential background checks throughout their recruitment process.

What background checks do the police do UK?

During DBS standard or enhanced check, the Police check for criminal history, including cautions, warnings, reprimands, and convictions held by the Police National Computer (PNC).

When hiring police officers, the police force will look at previous arrests, investigations, cautions, convictions, penalty notices, intelligence reports, motoring offences and any open source material.

How long does a background check take?

The average time to process background checks in the UK is three to five days. However, the time to process specific background checks vary.

For example, some background checks can be processed instantly, such as right to work, UK credit check, DVLA check and international sanctions.

Other checks may take more time, such as an DBS enhanced. Read our article on DBS checks to learn more about the process.

How to do a criminal background check on my partner in the UK

There are two background checks you can perform on your partner in the UK. These are Clare’s Law and Sarah’s Law.

Clare’s Law, or ‘Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme’, gives you the right to ask the police if your partner may be a risk to you.

It is recommended to contact the Metropolitan Police to request information under these laws.

How to get a criminal background check in the UK?

To get a criminal record check in the UK, you can request a DBS basic check with just a few details. These include all your addresses in the last 5 years, your national insurance number, your passport and your driving licence (if applicable).

The Employment Check App is the quickest and easiest way of getting an instant, basic DBS check.

Do arrests show up on a UK background check?

An arrest that does not result in a conviction or caution will not be disclosed on a standard DBS check.

However, during an enhanced DBS check, if a Chief Constable of a local police force identifies an arrest on the PNC that they feel is relevant, then they can disclose this information.

What do background checks show in the UK?

Background checks can reveal vital information which will influence an employer’s decision to hire you. These include your right to work, criminal record (if you have one), employment/education history, credit history (if applicable), employment gaps, motor vehicle and license record checks (if applicable).

Do background checks check your social media?

Some employers may check your social media activity during the pre-employment screening process. The reason is that social media can reveal behavioural information about you which is not revealed during the interview process.

Employers tend to look out for activity that is associated with non-desirable interests (e.g. groups that promote discrimination, racist organisations, etc). They also look out to see if a candidate has posted negative and/or aggressive comments about their previous employers.

You should note that employers must have justified reasons for not giving you the job following a social media check. If it is discovered that one of your personal characteristics (such as race, religion or sexual orientation) influenced their decision, you have the right to take legal action and be awarded compensation.

How do I know if I passed my background check?

Most UK employers will inform you by email or on the phone if you have passed your background checks.

What happens if I fail a background check?

It is up to the employer whether they decide to hire you based on the information they have found during a background check.

If a background check has flagged up some information of concern, an employer may ask questions. If they are satisfied with answers, then they can progress with your application.

In most circumstances, background checks fail because candidates have provided inaccurate or incomplete information. In these cases, employers tend to ask candidates to reassess the information they have provided.

If a background check fails numerous times, and the employer feels you are withholding important information, they can remove you from the recruitment process.