Whether you’re an engineer, project manager, doctor or accountant at some point you have probably gone through some form of pre-employment or background screening. Different jobs require different background checks, some of which employers are legally required to carry out, others are often just a part of the hiring process. But what are these checks and what do they tell employers about you? Here we’ll debunk the mystery surrounding background checks and answer the most commonly asked questions about pre-employment screening.
Q1. What checks do employers have to carry out?
Aside from specific pre-employment screening in regulated environments, there is only one pre-employment screening check that every employer must legally carry out and that is the right to work in the UK. This check is a legal requirement that every employer must carry out, it ensures that an applicant is eligible to legally work in the UK. For British citizens or applicants from the European Economic Area (EEA), this check is typically quite straightforward. But for international applicants, these checks can take time to process. This is mainly because the HMRC will check the Visa and immigration status of every international applicant.
What do you need to do? The answer is usually nothing. For British citizens, the right to work checks are handled by the employer and the HMRC. For EU citizens you are required to provide a copy of your EU citizenship ID or passport. For international applicants the process can take longer, you will typically need to arrange a work permit and present this to your employer. The type of work permit you require or may be issued with will be dependent upon the reason for your entry into the UK. i.e. student visa, where you can work up to 20 hours per week.
Q2. When will employers carry out background checks?
Despite the extra stress brought about by background checks, they are usually a good sign. Many employers won’t start the pre-employment screening process until they are certain they want to hire an applicant. When they choose to carry out the checks can vary depending on the employer’s recruitment process, but they will typically carry out checks soon after the interview process has finished. However, always check the terms of the application beforehand, as background checks can be carried out at any stage of the recruitment process. You will usually be asked about your right to work in the UK at the start of the recruitment process and asked to bring a copy of your ID to an interview with you.
Q3. What is an employment reference check?
As part of the screening stage, many employers will ask for references from past employers. You can refuse to provide a reference but, in some cases, this could harm your chances of getting the job. It is important to note that past employers are legally not allowed to give you a bad reference, they can only refuse to provide a reference. For some heavily regulated sectors, if references cannot be confirmed and your background cannot be verified in another way, it may affect your employment offer as you may be unable to gain access to areas you need to work in.
What do you need to do? If a new employer asks you for a reference they will typically provide you with an employee reference form. Often, background screening is outsourced as it is time-consuming for HR functions so the provider will usually guide you on how to complete the referee details and they will request the reference on your behalf.Morson screening services
Q4. Do employers look at social media?
The number of companies using social media screening for job applicants has increased dramatically over the last few years. According to a study conducted by CareerBuilder, around 70% of employers check an applicant’s social media pages before hiring them. Likewise, checking a company’s social media accounts as preparation can be a great way to find out more detailed information about them.
Always remember: when you are applying for jobs make sure that there is nothing that could potentially harm your chances of getting hired. An easy way to do this is to make your social media pages private, so employers can’t fully access your account.
Q5. Can employers check criminal records?
Some employers will carry out a criminal record check, this is typically referred to as a DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service) or Disclosure Scotland if you live in Scotland. DBS checks can be a contract requirement that certain employers must carry out. There are different levels of DBS checks depending on the industry and role, so it’s important to identify which checks may be carried out on you before you apply for a job. Visit the Gov.uk website to find out more information.
Q6. What happens if I fail a background check?
For some employers, it would be against the law to employ somebody who has failed a background check. But for the majority of employers, they are within their right to deny any applicant a job based on the results of their background checks. This, however, depends on the situation and many results from non-vital checks can be reviewed and discussed with the applicant. So, a fail doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get the job.
Q7. What can employers do/not do with my information?
Background checks are designed to be impartial, objective and fair, and any handling of personal information must follow the General Data Protection Regulation. This means your information is stored safely and is not shared with anybody who isn’t involved with the recruitment process. It is illegal for any employer to make decisions based on your ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, maternity status or political views.
Q8. Can I refuse a background check?
You are completely in your right to refuse a background check. Every employer must have your consent before they start the screening process. However certain checks are legal requirements and must be certified before you start employment, so refusing those checks will result in your employment being terminated. It is the decision of the employer to accept your refusal for non-vital checks. Remember, social media checks can be carried out without your consent.
Q9. How long does a background screening check take?
Typically, a background screening check will take around 5-7 days. This, however, can vary depending on the industry and role you are working in and the number of checks the employer carries out. Working on confidential projects, such as military/weapons manufacturing or on government contracts will often involve a long background screening process. Some background checks can last for around 4-6 weeks.
Q10. Where can I find more information about background screening?
At Morson, we have a dedicated background screening service. Morson Screening Services helps both applicants and employers speed up the recruitment process through providing quick, verified and detailed information. If you are currently looking for a job and want to find out more information about background checks, get in touch