Background Check for Employment UK: Establishing a Policy

Running background check on employee

Employers in the UK run a background check for employment on prospective employees for reasons such as maintaining legal compliance, protecting the organisation’s reputation, and upholding workplace safety. This is because background checks show important information on employment history, credit history, professional licence verification, social media presence, and convictions, arrest warrants, and other criminal charges such as in the example of a DBS criminal record check. This kind of information helps manage risk to the company, co-workers, and clients.

Employer establishing background check for employment on laptop

Establishing a Background Screening Policy

A background check for employment can reveal many things about an individual depending on the scope and depth of the check. The specific information disclosed in background checks depends on factors such as the purpose of the check, legal requirements, and the type of background screening being conducted. Here are some common reasons why employers run checks.

If you’re interested in adopting a screening policy in your organisation to set the standards for how to run a background check for employment, here are some best practices to consider:

Purpose of the Policy – Why are you performing background checks? For example, you might run background checks to demonstrate due diligence and maintain a safe workplace. In another instance, you may be required to run a check to meet industry-managed regulatory compliance. Research and understand the relevant country, regional, and local laws and regulations that govern background checks in your jurisdiction. Different regions may have specific requirements and restrictions regarding what information can be collected and considered during the screening process.

Application of the Policy – Next, establish who the policy applies to. Does it apply to all new employers? Are current employees required to have a background check for employment before a promotion? Establish a process for obtaining written consent from individuals you’ll conduct checks on. Clearly communicate to applicants or employees why the checks are being conducted and how the information will be used.

Products and Services – Which background checks will you request? As noted above, a criminal record check shows information on a candidate’s criminal history. Decide on the types of checks that will be conducted, such as criminal record checks, credit checks, employment history verification, educational verification, reference checks, and more. In order to maintain compliance with laws and industry regulations, it’s important that the policy applies consistently to all candidates and employees and that each role has the same background check for employment or set of checks. Here are the checks that UK employers can make on job applicants.

Timing of Background Screening – When will you request the check? Timing is important because there are laws that ban checks prior to conditional offers. Communicate the background screening policy to all employees, applicants, and relevant stakeholders. Ensure that everyone is aware of the policy’s existence, purpose, and procedures.

Implementation – Who’s authorized to request a background check for employment and review results? Provide training to HR staff, hiring managers, and relevant personnel on the background screening policy, including its purpose, procedures, and legal implications.

Record Keeping – Keep detailed records of the background screening process, including consent forms, screening results, communication with individuals, and any actions taken based on the results. Where will reports be stored and for how long? Outline how the collected information will be stored, used, and protected to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of individuals’ personal data. Compliance with data protection regulations is crucial.

Vendor Selection – If you plan to use third-party vendors to conduct background checks, carefully select reputable providers that comply with legal requirements and industry best practices.

Happy employees and safe workplace from background check for employment

Background Check Checklist

To summarize what’s detailed above, here are the types of questions to ask and answer to establish your organisation’s background screening policy:

  1. Why are you performing background checks? 
  2. Who does the policy apply to?
  3. What background checks will you request?
  4. When will you request the background checks? 
  5. Who’s authorized to request background checks and review results?
  6. Where will reports be stored and for how long?
  7. Who will conduct the background checks?

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when establishing a background screening and before running your first background check for employment. The questions and best practices noted above should not be construed as legal advice, guidance, or counsel. Employers should consult their own legal counsel about their compliance obligations as the requirements vary by jurisdiction.

Smooth, Compliant Background Check for Employment

Creating a background screening policy involves establishing guidelines and procedures for conducting thorough and fair background checks on candidates and employees. A well-defined screening policy helps ensure safety, compliance with legal regulations, and consistency in the background check for employment process. 

With our network of global partners and in-depth knowledge of background screening requirements, Credence Background Screening, a Certn company, offers UK-based and international background check for employment with industry-leading turnaround times to help employers protect their organisation from employee-related risk.

In addition to a background check for employment, we can help you run:

  1. Verifications – Education and Academic Verification
  2. Adverse Media Searches
  3. Digital Identity Checks

See for yourself. Request a quote for a check or a customised background screening program from one of our experts.