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March 13th, 2017 | Sterling

Background Screening Best Practices for Hiring Managers

Three women in glass office

Organisations come in all sizes from an entrepreneur starting their own business to multinational companies, and the hiring process is differently in each of these companies. For larger companies, HR managers and recruiters will be in charge of the hiring process. For smaller companies, the direct manager will be the one reviewing CVs, setting up interviews and making the hiring decisions. Hiring managers will have to be just as informed in the many components of the hiring process, including background screening as their HR professional counterparts.

According to Sterling 2016 survey, Background Screening Trends and Best Practices Report 2016, screening is on the rise amongst companies in the UK with six out of 10 businesses currently conducting background screening. Compliance is the top reason that employers conduct the background screening in the UK. The survey found that approximately half of background checks are performed in-house, but that one in five companies that conduct screening have no official screening policy. Most background screening is performed on executives, directors and managers, but only half of the companies screen hourly wage employees and contract workers. With increasing globalisation, there will likely be a rise in global pre-hire background checks in the future. Based on our survey 88% of companies employ workers with international experience, but only 45% conduct global background checks on them.

Background Screening Requirements

The legal landscape of background screening is continuously evolving. To keep your organisation compliant with legislative updates, ensure you have a screening policy in place and schedule regular reviews. Employers need to formalise their policies, put the right processes in place and make consistent, accurate screening a central element of their recruitment strategy. If background screening is performed in-house, there are certain procedures that must be followed when hiring a new employee, while also following data protection and policy rules:

  • Right to Work in the UK: Employers have a legal duty to prevent employing illegal workers in the UK and avoid unlawful discrimination while doing so. The implications of not checking employees’ Right to Work can cost organisations money and reputational damage— and can keep them from entering into public procurement contracts. Employers can be fined up to £20,000 if they can’t show evidence that they checked an employee’s right to work in the UK.
  • Criminal Records Check: Certain jobs, such as working with children or in healthcare may require employers to perform a criminal record check on employees before they can start. There are three different types of criminal records check: Basic, Standard and Enhanced. It is critical to determine the correct type of check for the role. It is very important to remember that unless there is a specific need to check someone’s criminal record for a job, it is against the law for employers to refuse to employ them because of spent convictions.

Background Screening Best Practices for Hiring Managers

With the global workforce growing, more international screening will be required. These screenings usually take longer than domestic background checks; therefore hiring managers should perhaps be prepared to wait a little longer for the candidate to start in the job. Global screening is just one of the factors that need to be kept in mind when performing background checks.

Relevant Information

During the recruiting process, hiring managers should only collect the personal information that is relevant to the position. A hiring decision should be targeted on finding information that is pertinent to the decision to offer employment. This is especially true if hiring managers carry out social media screening. Employers should develop a clear policy towards the use of social media for recruitment purposes, in consultation with employees or their representatives where this is required under the law. The DIY approach to social media screening increases a company’s liability and could lead to negligent hiring or discrimination.

Be Transparent

Hiring firms must provide applicants with a privacy notice (also known as a “fair processing notice” which should explain how personal information will be processed. In certain circumstances, consent must be obtained before running certain background checks. In accordance with data protection and employment laws, if an organisation denies employment based on inaccurate or incomplete information, a candidate may have a right of action against the employer. Candidates must be given a chance to dispute any inaccurate material discovered during a background check, particularly where it has influenced the hiring manager’s decision.

Be Compliant

Organisations must ensure that they are using the results of background screening checks in compliance with local data protection and employment laws. Employers must be compliant with the Data Protection Act 1998 (and eventually the General Data Protection Regulation) as well as the Information Commissioner’s Employment Practices Code. With global hiring on the rise, recruiters and managers should be aware of any legal constraints in obtaining data about individuals in different countries. Companies must keep any collected personal information secure, either in paper or digital form. The information can only be kept as long as there is a clear need for it.

Challenges of In-House Background Screening

Time and cost are the most significant challenges that organisations currently face when performing background checks. Employers may opt to use in-house screening resources thinking it would save them money, but in the long term, this might not be the best strategy. Thanks to technology and experience provided by a third-party screening company, HR teams and hiring managers will be able to free up their resources to focus on other pressing activities. Outsourcing employee background checks will save time, increase productivity and efficiency and ensure a company stays compliant. Find out more about best practices for background screening in the UK by downloading our report, Background Screening Trends and Best Practices Report 2016.

2016 Background Screening Trends & Best Practices Report

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.