Criminal Record checks and social media checks on the rise

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A recent report has indicated that the use of social media checking in pre-employment screening is growing, with up to 80% of companies routinely screening candidate’s social media profiles. In addition, there is growing demand for criminal records checks as part of the recruitment process.

Screening candidate’s social media can identify applicants who might pose a risk to the company, spotting posts which indicate undesirable characteristics or activity which could impact company reputation. Illegal activity, links to activist or terrorist groups, or other breaches of company policy can all signal a red flag to potential employers. Social media screening can also validate the applicants claimed work or education history.

However, social media screening is not without risk. The terms of GDPR requires candidates to give clear consent to all screening, and access to the information is restricted to only that which is relevant to the role. Failure to adhere to GDPR can result in costly fines and reputational damage.

According to a recent study, criminal records checks are now carried out by 58% of employers, making them the second most common form of background check after the Right to Work check, which is a legal requirement. In the UK there are three levels of criminal records checks, carried out by DBS in England and Wales, and Disclosure Scotland. Basic checks report any unspent convictions, Standard checks also include any spent or unspent convictions or cautions and Enhanced covers the same level as Standard with the addition of any relevant information held by the local police. Enhanced with Barred also includes a check for whether an individual is listed as being barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.

International criminal records checks should be carried out for applicants who have lived or worked outside of the UK, or when hiring staff for locations outside the UK. International criminality checking can be a more complicated task than checks in the UK, due to varying laws and information availability in other countries.

As with all other checks, employers must have a candidate’s explicit consent to carry out criminality checking and must have just cause for accessing the information. GDPR also provides candidates with the right to withdraw their consent at any time.

But the complexity of pre-employment screening, due to data privacy and protection put in place through GDPR, is clearly not discouraging employers from putting the safety of their business, staff and customers first.

Using a specialist screening provider will ensure that all checks are carried out legally and the information provided is relevant to the job application.