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How to avoid the major traps of running background checks

With certain screening a legal requirement in all employment as well as comprehensive pre-employment checking processes becoming more effective, efficient and useful than ever before, the resulting increased legislation and availability of data can expose employers to several risks. This is our guide to avoiding the major traps of running background checks.

TRAP ONE - Violating screening laws

All employers have an obligation to ensure that applicants have the right to work in the UK, and therefore this check is a legal requirement. After a right to work check however, employers must be able to prove that they have a legitimate reason to carry out further screening. Further laws concern data privacy, including a requirement for candidate data protection processes to be in place, as well as a statement detailing how long background check data will be retained and why. In addition, employers must avoid discrimination based on the results of background checks. Legislation concerning background screening is regularly changing, in order to reflect the growth in the availability of data and new technologies, therefore ensuring that you remain compliant in your screening practices is crucial.

TRAP TWO - Basing hiring decision on inaccurate or incomplete results

A recruitment drive can often be a fraught time, with employers wanting to onboard new hires quickly. But this can result in human error as well as in failing to carry out comprehensive checks. Employers must carry out right to works checks on all employees but additional checks including employment history, education, social media checks and DBS (criminality checks) are part of a comprehensive screening programme. These checks help mitigate risks caused by a bad hire, which in turn saves money and reduces staff turnover. Candidates have the right to access any information held on them and can therefore inform you if they believe the results are wrong. Candidates are also able to dispute a DBS check if they believe it to be inaccurate.

TRAP THREE – Misclassifying employees as self-employed

Employee classification is particularly complex in the UK where there are three types of employment: typical employee, independent contractor and worker. There have been several high-profile cases in the last few years where employers have misclassified workers as self-employed. This is problematic because workers are entitled to the full range of employment rights, benefits and protection including rest breaks, national minimum wage and paid holiday as well as pension contributions, protection against discrimination and rights to equality. In addition, employers must carry out right to work checks on all workers and employees, misclassifying a worker as self-employed could leave employers non-compliant. Penalties for misclassification can include payment of back taxes and unpaid national insurance contributions, as well as fines and interest.

Using a specialist screening company can help protect employers against these traps as well as ensure that screening is carried out quickly, efficiently and effectively.

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