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Employment screening FAQs

This information is for the use of candidates and will hopefully answer any questions you have regarding your screening and why your prospective employer is  asking for an employment screening report.

We do aim to make your employment screening experience both a simple and positive experience, but understand that you may have questions about the background screening process. We aim to answer those questions here.

Search through our FAQs by typing a key term into the search field. If you are still unable to find the answer, please contact us to ask a question and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why am I being screened?

It is commonplace these days for employers to screen all those that are to be offered employment.

The reason for screening will vary from employer to employer. It may be because the position being offered involves working with, or access to, large sums of money, or working with vulnerable groups, such as children or elderly adults. Alternatively a company in the construction industry may screen prospective employees because they have free access to expensive tools, or construction materials, or that they simply want to establish that the person does have the right to work in the UK/Europe.

It is a sad fact but fraudulent acts by staff cost industry millions every year, so many employers just want to make sure that whoever they employ is trustworthy.As a result millions of people undergo screening of some sort every year before being offered employment.

If this worries you in any way please talk to us prior to your screening beginning and we will be able to explain the process to you.

2. Do I have to declare every job I have ever done?

Employment history referencing accounts for all previous employments within a set time period. This can be up to the last 10 years of your working life. 
If a candidate has not mentioned a previous employment in an application form or on their CV, it is often because they feel that experience from the previous role is not relevant to the role applied for.

However, previous employments may on occasion not be disclosed because it would provide adverse information to the employer. This is likely to be the case for candidates who have demonstrated poor performance or a lack of attendance in a previous role, or if they have been dismissed (e.g. for misconduct).

As part of our service agreements with clients, we work to ‘map out’ a candidate’s employment history on a month-by-month basis. To ensure that employers are given the full picture of their candidate’s employment history, we use best practice methodologies that can cover any gaps in employment periods stated on CVs or applications.

If you are worried about an unfavourable reference by a previous employer, it is always advisable to discuss the situation with your prospective employer.

3. Can I have a copy of my screening data?

Under data protection legislation you have what is referred to as 'Subject Access Rights'. These rights allow you to request a copy of any personal data that is held about you. To obtain a copy of this information, you just have to submit a request to the organisation you have applied to work in.

Please note that you may have to pay a small administration fee in order to obtain this information.

4. How long is my data kept for?

We have agreed a shredding policy with your prospective employer in order to comply with the requirements of data protection legislation. Once your screening has been completed all paper files are stored in a secure archiving facility ready for shredding upon the agreed shredding date.

We have engaged a British Security Industry Association approved shredding firm which comes on site regularly to securely shred all confidential waste in the presence of one of their employees. All electronic records are automatically deleted by the system upon the agreed shredding date leaving just your name and completion certificate on our database.

5. How will my information be processed?

We will hold all the information that you provide to us for the purposes of conducting your pre-employment screening. For example, your name, address, date of birth, employment history, etc. This information is needed to enable us to conduct your screening and is only used for this purpose. 

The Data Protection Act 1998 does not allow a company to process any personal information without the explicit consent of the individual. As part of our screening process you would be asked to complete a declaration of consent form which states what checks we will be conducting on you.

This declaration of consent is a critical document and we would not process any of your referencing without having received your signed copy of this document. It is important that we have your handwritten signature on this document and not an electronic one to ensure that you have given your explicit consent to us processing your data for the purposes of conducting employment checks.

As standard procedure we would confirm that any correspondence by fax, email or letter is being sent to the correct place before sending out any documentation that contains any personal information. The request would always be accompanied by your signed declaration of consent to show that we do indeed have your explicit consent to process your personal information.

6. What checks will be done for my role?

Candidates applying for a new position are requested to undergo a series of pre-employment checks which are deemed appropriate and relevant to the post being offered.

Firstly you will need to complete a declaration of consent form which outlines the scope of the checks that will be applicable to your role and the form will inform you of exactly which checks are required before you can start your new role.

Please note that these checks will only be undertaken when you have received and have accepted an offer of employment with your new organisation.

The checks performed are very role specific and depend upon what the employer feels is appropriate. The levels are usually classed according to what job tasks you will undertake, so could be low, medium, or high risk levels with the number and depth of enquiries increasing as the risk level increases.

For example, if you are working in finance the employer may specify an ID/Address check, plus 5 year employment, criminality and financial probity checks, whereas a school might specify ID/Address, right to work, enhanced DBS to check if a person is barred from working with children.

7. What is a Basic Disclosure Check?

A Basic Disclosure check is the most frequent route to obtain criminality information about a candidate. The criminality check or Basic Disclosure check is more commonly (and erroneously) referred to as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. The CRB is only contacted for certain roles and industries.

Basic Disclosure certificates can be obtained from Disclosure Scotland or Disclosure and Barring Service and they verify any unspent convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. The results are compared to your self-declaration and the relevance to your role and your employer will be advised of the results.

We also have the capability to perform international criminality checks and we will instruct both you and your employer on how to retrieve official government criminal certification via your respective country’s embassy in the UK.

8. What is a CRB check?

The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) was the Home Office service used to hold criminal records information up until 2012.

CRB checks are no longer used because on 1 December 2012, the Criminal Records Bureau merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to form the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The check is now referred to as a DBS Check.

More information about the new Disclosure and Barring service can be found here or on the Home Office website.

9. What is a Financial Probity check?

A financial probity check is a review of all publicly held financial information about you. The check is performed to identify any previous or existing County Court Judgments (CCJs), Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) or bankruptcies.

Please note that this check does not constitute what is commonly referred to as a ‘credit check’ as this information is not generally required as part of the pre-employment screening process.

This check will have a ‘soft footprint’ on your credit history (meaning credit companies will be aware that a check has been made, but not by whom). However, this will not negatively affect your credit score in any way. Visit our Screening Services page to find out more.

10. What is the Data Protection Act?

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) gives the individual the right to know what information is held about them. It provides a framework to ensure that personal information is handled properly.

Information is any identifiable personal information about an individual such as national insurance number, address, date of birth, family circumstances, bank details and medical records.

In order to comply with the DPA a company must adhere to the 8 principles which underpin the act. Personal information must be:

  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in line with your rights
  • Secure
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.

A useful guide on the Data Protection Act 1998 can be found on the ICO website.

11. Who is Security Watchdog?

Since our inauguration in 1998, we have become recognised as the industry leaders and subject matter experts in all areas of employment screening and vetting services.

We provide every available employment screening service, as well as audit and advisory services, both nationally and globally, thanks to our multilingual screening experts.

As increased pressure is being placed on companies to reduce operational risk and fraudulent activity by their respective regulatory bodies, organisations in all business sectors are identifying a need for a professional employment screening service in order to ensure the honesty and integrity of their existing and prospective employees.

We have developed corporate screening programmes for hundreds of regional, national and global organisations. We deliver fast and robust results on an international scale to cover permanent, temporary and contract employees, including third party contractors.

We aim to make candidate employment screening as simple and convenient for all those that we have contact with and operate a strict code of practice concerning contact with candidates and adherence to the Data Protection Act 1998.

12. Who will handle my information?

All potential employees coming into Security Watchdog are subject to a rigorous recruitment process that includes a competency based interview, aptitude test and psychometric testing.

Upon being offered a position all candidates undergo stringent screening to BS:7858 standard (code of practice for security screening of personnel in a security environment) which includes a criminality check, five year employment history referencing and a financial probity check.

In addition to this, a media search and sanctions list search is also undertaken which checks against the names of politically exposed persons and known terrorists. All our employee screening files are subject to independent audit by accredited certification body ISOQAR as part of the requirements of their registration under ISO:9001.

This ensures that only the most secure persons are deemed suitable for handling your personal data and we ensure total compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 from our staff while ensuring that your data is processed fairly and accurately.

13. Will I be contacted?

If you fully complete all application and screening forms, the chances are we will not need to contact you. However, if there are gaps or inaccuracies in the information you have provided us, or if information does not correspond with the information provided by third parties (such as your previous employers, personal referees or university student records department) we may have to contact you to discuss the information you have provided.

Some examples of circumstances in which we may need to contact you to discuss further include:

  • Missing or incomplete personal details or National Insurance documentation
  • Lack of a complete address history
  • Gaps in your employment history
  • Being unable to contact your previous employers or referees

We will try to ensure that where contact is required, it is kept to a minimum. Your prompt co-operation in providing thorough, accurate information will enable us to advance the pre-employment screening process.

14. I want to work as a volunteer - do I have to have checks?

Voluntary organisations often conduct employment checks on people applying to perform voluntary work in the same way that employers do.

Charities and voluntary organisations need to verify the integrity of the volunteers who apply to work with them and identify any potentially adverse information which may pose a threat to their organisation.

It is common practice for these organisations to conduct criminal record checks through the DBS to identify adverse information which may affect an application for voluntary work, but they may also require other information to support the volunteer's application, such as obtaining character references.

Checks on volunteers working with children, or vulnerable adults are mandatory.

15. Who is the DBS?

On 1 December 2012, the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to operate under the single title of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

The DBS was formed under the Protection of Freedoms Act, which came into effect on 10 September 2012, and will provide a unified service which combines both the criminal records and barring functions and is sponsored by the Home Office.

Criminality disclosures are an important background check to conduct, particularly for new employees entering into roles working with vulnerable adults or children. The service process provided by the DBS will remain the same as the CRB had done previously; the DBS will continue to process applications for criminality disclosures without affecting turnaround times.

You can find out more about the changes to the CRB on the Home Office Website.

The service provided by DBS will not affect the provision of criminality checks by Security Watchdog, and we will continue to process your criminality disclosures quickly and effectively to make sure you are able to start your new role.