In the course of pre-employment checks a number of factors may, individually or in combination, raise concerns about the integrity or reliability of the applicant.
These factors include:
- involvement in illegal activities;
- unspent criminal convictions relevant to the role, particularly if not volunteered by the applicant and only revealed by other checks;
- false or unsubstantiated claims on the CV or application form;
- unsubstantiated qualifications;
- unexplained gaps in employment history;
- adverse references;
- questionable documentation e.g. lack of supporting paperwork or concern that documents are not genuine;
- evasiveness or unwillingness to provide information on the part of the candidate.
Other stages of the recruitment process also give opportunities to screen candidates. Interviews, in particular, will help to form an opinion of their character. Credit reports can provide assurance that there are no significant credit or debt problems that could place the individual in a vulnerable position. Checks, tests and interviews help the employer to assess the integrity and reliability of the candidate.
Pre-employment checks can be used to confirm an applicant's identity, nationality and immigration status, and to verify their declared skills and employment history.
Organisations should be aware of BS7858:2012, the new version of the British Standard for the screening of individuals employed in a security environment, which comes into effect on 1 May 2013. The current version, BS7858:2006+A2:2009, will be withdrawn on 30 April 2013.
The new standard includes a number of changes to the screening process, including:
- more robust procedures on confirming the individual's identity;
- minimum of five years' employment confirmation is required to meet full security screening;
- requirement for executives/directors to accept the risk on financial checks for County Court Judgements in excess of £10,000, and bankruptcies;
- more robust procedures where career and history records are incomplete;
- the screening period goes back to the age of 16 if this date is more recent than the start of the 5 year screening period (currently age 12).
Organisations can use the new Standard now, but must adopt it by May 1 2013 to remain compliant. If organisations employ the services of a commercial screening company, they should also confirm compliancy and procedures with the screening company.
For further details, visit the BSi website.
Criminal records checks
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Act 2012 has introduced amendments to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 2012, which came into effect on 10 March 2014. These amendments have changed the rehabilitation periods for minor sentences, after which they do not need to be disclosed. For example, the length of a custodial sentence which can never become 'spent' has been increased from 2.5 years to 4 years. For further information, please see the DBS website.
Employing migrant workers
The old UK Border Agency website has now been incorporated into the GOV.UK website under the agency's new name, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Information for employers on employing migrant workers can be found on the UKVI pages.
The Immigration Act 2014 has amended provisions under the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, including:
- The maximum Civil Penalty for organisations employing illegal workers is raised to £20,000.
- The frequency of follow-up checks for employees with time limited right to work has changed from 12 months to when their permission to reside in the UK and do the work in question expires.
- Time limited statutory excuse is a new title for successfully checking documents for those with time limited leave to reside in the UK and do the work in question.
- Successful completion of checks for those with a permanent right to work in the UK will give employers a continuous statutory excuse. There is then no requirement to conduct further checks.
- Employers must now record the date on which checks were made.
Comprehensive guidance on these and other changes can be found on the illegal working penalties page on the GOV.UK website. Useful documents include: employer’s guide to right to work checks; acceptable right to work documents; code of practice on civil penalty scheme for employers; right to work checklist; statutory excuse checklist.
Employers should be aware of the points-based system (PBS) for migrants coming to work from outside the European Economic area and Switzerland, which is controlled by UKVI. Prospective employees must pass a points-based test under one of the tiers operating under the PBS. Points are awarded on ability, experience, salary, ability to speak English and, when appropriate, the level of economic need within the sector they will be working in. Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the PBS are operational, whilst Tier 3 is suspended. Detailed guidance can be found on the UKVI website.
Employers should also be aware of the Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) for migrants coming to work in the UK. All migrants from outside the EEA and Switzerland granted permission to stay in the UK for more than six months must apply for a BRP. This is to comply with EU regulations. Further information can be found on the UKVI website.
On 1 July 2013 Croatia joined the EU, and the procedures for employing Croatian nationals changed:
- For Croatian nationals wishing to work in the UK under Tires 2 and 5 of the Points Based System and are not exempt from requiring permission to work in the UK, the UK employer must hold a sponsor licence.
- Before commencing employment in the UK, the employer should assign a certificate of sponsorship to the Croatian national.
- When the certificate of sponsorship has been assigned, the Croatian national should apply for a purple Worker Authorisation Registration Certificate – also referred to as an accession worker authorisation document.
- The purple certificate is valid for 12 months, when the employee becomes exempt from registration, and they are then entitled to hold a blue certificate. This allows unrestricted access to the UK labour market.
Full details can be found on gov.uk.
National security vetting
The national security vetting regime applies to certain employment positions which give access to protectively marked government information, or access to potential physical targets of terrorist attack and/or information that would be of use to terrorists.