Employment Background Checks | A Step-by-Step Guide

Employment background checks are a part of the recruitment process that ascertains an individual’s professional and personal background. The aim is to protect employers and recruiters from making poor hiring decisions, as well as prevent any legal, financial, and reputational damage.

Employment background checks are extensive and its difficult to know where to start. What’s more, a lack of due diligence and process can lead to costly non-compliance and legal ramifications.

In this guide, we provide clear step-by-step instructions that will help you and your organisation conduct employment background checks efficiently and compliantly.

Employment Background Check Process

1 – Collect Your Candidate’s Data

To conduct any type of background check, you must first collect the individual’s data and documents.

At a minimum, you should look to collect the individual’s…

  1. Full name
    • Name change history (including their previous name/s and the date of these changes)
  2. Address history (from the last 5 years)
  3. Employment history (from the last 5 years)
  4. Employment references
  5. Certificates (higher education, training, or any other certificates relevant to the role)
  6. ID (for a right to work and criminal record check)
    • Passport, birth certificate, driving licence, etc.

You can easily collect all the data and documents you need by asking your candidate to use Employment Check App.

2 – Ask Your Candidates to Complete a Digital Consent Form

Before you can process any data or background checks, you must first obtain consent from the candidate to have their data processed. This comes under current data protection laws (GDPR).

Even if you have offered the candidate the job, you still need their permission.

3 – ID Verification

Organisations have been fined for hiring individuals where their ID documents have turned out to be fake.

Even if it can be assumed that your candidate’s ID documents are genuine, you should have a process that checks their validity and authenticity.

The European Council provide an extensive database on types of ID, including the watermarks and features you will find.

If you are performing background checks at a large scale, then there is software that provides instant ID verification.

4 – Check for Gaps

4a – Employment Gaps

An employment gap is a timeframe unaccounted for between jobs. There are several reasons a candidate might have career gaps, including a career break, redundancy, or a change in personal circumstances.

Small employment gaps should be of no concern to employers. If a gap exceeds 30 days, and is not accounted for, you should ask your candidate to clarify what they were up to during this time.

4b – Address History Gaps

If there are gaps in your candidate’s address history, then this will make it harder (even impossible) to perform certain background checks (e.g., criminal record check, credit check).

Be sure to ask your candidate to provide an accurate address history from, at least, the last 5 years.

5 – Run the Employment Background Checks

5a – Run a Right to Work check

You are legally obligated to perform a right to work check on candidates before they start work. If you dismiss this obligation, you may be subject 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 run a right to work check before or after you offer the candidate a job.

The Home Office suggest following the Obtain, Check, Copy procedure (we discuss this more here).

The documents you can check and further guidance is provided here.

5b – Perform a criminal record check

It is vital to perform a criminal record check on new starters (also known as a DBS check in the UK, and Disclosure Scotland check in Scotland).

Considering the small cost, the result is protection from potential legal, reputation, and financial damage.

A basic criminal record check (or DBS basic) is sufficient for most organisations in most industries. However, some sectors require new starters to complete a standard or enhanced DBS check.

We discuss criminal record checks in more detail here.

5c – Run a credit check (if applicable)

If your candidate is working in the financial sector, or with finances, then you should run a credit check on them.

Such a check examines public and private databases for County Court Judgements (CCJs), bankruptcies, voluntary arrangements, decrees, and administration orders.

For roles outside of finance, it may not be necessary to conduct a credit check. However, if you feel a credit check is proportionate to the role or your industry, then you should proceed with a credit check.

5d – Run a DVLA check (if applicable)

If your candidate will be driving on behalf of your company, then you should conduct a DVLA check. This also includes third parties who have access to a company vehicle, and employees/new starters who drive their own vehicle for work-related tasks.

Failure to complete DVLA checks could lead to the hiring of 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, the organisation in question can face large fines. Also, you will be charged under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

6 – Obtain Employment References

It is typical practice to ask candidates for employment references from their last two jobs. Other organisations in particular industries may have a more rigorous, extensive process, which requires the candidate to provide more than just two references.

7 – Date and File Your Employment Background Checks

After all checks and references are complete, you must date and file these checks for compliance and future reference purposes. These must be stored in accordance with GDPR (data protection) laws, and the candidate must be made aware of how their data is being stored (and processed).

8 – Implement a Regular Employment Background Checks Procedure

Some background checks, particularly DVLA, credit, and criminal record checks, should be run annually on your employees.

By law, some industries require regular background checks (e.g., the healthcare industry requires all staff to take out an annual DBS enhanced check).

The frequency of these checks varies from sector to sector. The general rule is to run background checks at least once a year in order to maintain compliance and prevent any legal ramifications.

EBC Global and Your Employment Background Checks

It is evident that poor practices can lead to slower and non-compliant recruitment processes.

This can have a detrimental affect on the candidate experience, compliance management, data management, and reporting.

The result? Poor hiring decisions, as well as financial, legal, and reputational damage to your company.

If there is scope to implement a system that automates your employment background checks process (that maintains compliance and increases efficiency) then you should consider Employment Check Pro.

Employment Check Pro is a secure, fast, and robust platform that offers instant employment checks. Its easy to use and has helped all our clients manage all elements of the screening and recruitment process.

It is designed for all sectors, including aviation, education, healthcare, recruitment, and more.

And not only is it secure, but it is also fast and fully GDPR-compliant.

Pro adds value to both your organisation and to your candidate. Save time and reduce paperwork; all whilst maintaining compliance.

Learn more about Pro here or complete the contact form below to book a demo.