Most commonly asked HR questions about employment screening

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Carrying out background checks on your candidates is not only prudent, in some cases it is a legal requirement. Ensuring that your applicants are who they say they are, have the right to work in the UK and have the necessary credentials to carry out the role can help ensure that you make the right hire.

We round up some of the most commonly asked questions about employment screening.

How long does background screening take?

It depends on the nature and depth of screening required, with some checks taking only a few hours. Criminal records (DBS checks) can take up to 6 weeks, depending on the level of check.

Why do some checks take longer?

Background screening can take more time if you are employing someone who has lived, worked or been educated outside the UK, because this might involve contacting companies and educational establishments who have different processes. Identity and right to work checks, ensuring that someone has the legal right to work here, are compulsory for all UK workers.

Your screening company will be able to advise you on how long your particular checks are likely to take.

At what stage of the recruitment process should background checks be carried out?

Some industries require background checks prior to making an offer of employment. We recommend that this is best practice across all roles and industries.

What checks can employers carry out on candidates?

With permission from a candidate, employers must carry out a Right to Work in the UK check. Criminal records checks might also be a legal requirement in some roles. In addition, employers can carry out residency checks, employment checks, education checks, reference checks, financial checks and media searches.

Can’t I just look up candidates’ backgrounds online?

Candidates must give full consent for background screening to take place, and employers are only allowed to request information which is relevant to the role. While some information might be available in the public domain, for example social media profiles, carrying out screening without the knowledge or consent of the candidate is illegal. In addition, not all information discovered online will be relevant for the hiring process and might even be considered discriminatory. Using a specialist screening provider provides protection for both the candidate and employer.