Employee background checks – what to look out for

There are many things you need to look out for when conducting employee background checks.

On the surface, it may appear your new (or current) staff have the credentials, right to work, and experience they stated on their application.

But without the appropriate processes and tools, many aspects of your employee’s background may get overlooked. And the result? Financial, legal, and/or reputational damage.

In this article, we discuss what to look out for when conducting employee background checks.

Fake ID documents

ID documents are the most common form of fake documents provided by employees.

TrustID stated that the fake ID documents reported in 2020 included Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), passports, visas, ID cards and driving licenses. In addition, passports made up 44% of this number.

If you fail to spot a fake ID document, then this will void a right to work check, which will lead to a maximum civil fine of £20,000 per individual, and/or a criminal sanction of an unlimited fine or imprisonment of five years.

You can obtain guidance on spotting fraudulent ID documents from the government website. However, it is recommended that you use reliable software to check these documents accurately.

Fraudulent educational certificates

Fake educational credentials are also common (and widely available to the public online). Many UK employers have reported candidate’s providing University degree certificates that, whilst seemingly authentic, were revealed to be fraudulent.

If you suspect your employee has provided a fake certificate, then you should contact the issuing body to determine its authenticity.

Conflicting timelines

Conflicting (or clashing) timelines are a common cause for background checks failing. This may be caused by your employee providing inaccurate dates.

However, there are times when conflicting timelines can cause concern. For example, if your employee states they were in full-time education and full-time employment at the same time, then it is likely they have provided false information.

In instances where this occurs, you should ask your employee/candidate follow up questions and cross-check this information with the references they have provided.

Timeline gaps

Common CV practice suggests that job seekers should indicate gaps in their employment or educational history and what they were up to during these times.

However, not all applicants provide this information, which may raise a red flag.

If your employee’s history has significant gaps (e.g. 3+ months), then you should ask them to clarify what they were up to during that time. However, as there is no legal underpinning to this practice, you can choose whether or not to ask any questions.

Criminal record: spent and unspent convictions

Whilst you may be unhappy to discover an applicant or existing employee has a criminal record, you should take action on a case-by-case basis.

Discovering that your applicant has criminal convictions

If an applicant has a criminal record and unspent convictions, then you must assess the potential impact this could have on your organisation.

Your decision to hire should be based around the role itself, and whether it really matters if they have a criminal record. Of course, this depends on the type of unspent convictions revealed.

This really matters if the role is an excepted role (those working with children and vulnerable adults). If you feel the unspent conviction/s revealed could pose a danger, then you can refuse to employ the applicant.

However, this changes if criminal record check reveals a spent conviction/s. You can ask the applicant what the spent conviction was for, but they are legally allowed to withhold that information. Furthermore, you are not allowed to deny that person employment.

Discovering that your existing employee has a criminal conviction

If you discover an existing employee has unspent an criminal conviction/s, you should treat this case-by-case. Depending on the type of unspent conviction, you can dismiss and employee. However, if the conviction/s is spent, then the employee can take legal action under ‘unfair dismissal’.

As a general practice, it is highly recommended that you take out criminal record checks (also known as DBS checks) on all employees.

Sanctions search

You should conduct a sanction search to determine if an applicant or employee has had any adverse media attention or affiliations with illegal entities. It will allow you to determine if an individual is prohibited from certain activities or industries; thus, protecting your company’s reputation and preventing adverse media attention.

In most cases, a sanction search is used to uncover any financial misdemeanours (e.g. trading under an insolvent company).

A sanctions search is usually conducted by government bodies, financial companies, or by UK employers who are hiring at senior/director level.

We discuss sanction searches in more detail here.

Poor credit (e.g. bankruptcy, etc)

Whilst pre-employment credit checks are mandatory practice in the financial sector, you should implement a credit check if the role requires the handling of money and/or financial information (e.g. an accountant).

A typical pre-employment credit check will determine if your employee has any County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcies, voluntary arrangements, decrees, or administration orders.

If you discover your applicant or employee has a bad credit history, then you should decide how much impact this may have on your business.

You cannot deny employment or dismiss an employee if they have a bad credit history, except if a good credit history is required for the role.

Driving points and/or convictions

If your employee drives on behalf of your organisation, then you must look out for driving convictions and points on their driving license.

If you fail to complete appropriate DVLA checks, then you will end up the hiring unsuitably qualified or dangerous drivers. And if they are involved in an accident, and it is proved they were driving as part of their job, your company can face large fines. Also, you will be charged under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

We discuss DVLA checks in more detail here.

Software to help with your employee background checks

The main takeaway from this article is that basic employee background checks will help you to an extent. But to fully protect your organisation, you should have a process that ensures staff are qualified, educated and experienced as per the information provided in their application.

Of course, ensuring the legitimacy of the information provided can put a lot on your plate. In addition, there are compliance considerations and efficiency factors to consider.

With this in mind, we developed Employment Check Pro.

Pro was developed to provide your organisation with a robust, efficient, and compliant background check and vetting platform. What’s more, the software is tailored to your industry, requirements, and covers all background checks.

To learn more about Employment Check Pro, visit https://ebcglobal.co.uk/pro/ or fill in the form below to book a demo: