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Should You Background Check Existing Employees?

It can be a relief when your candidate background checks have been completed. With this final screening obstacle negotiated, you are now free to hire and onboard your new found talent. 

At this point, many employers think that the background checking process is over. Admittedly, this was once the case, but we are moving into an era where post-employment screening is becoming the norm too. In today’s world, employers need to be doing a range of background checks, not just prior to, but also during the employment life-cycle, to protect the integrity of the business. 

In fact, here are several scenarios during the employment life-cycle where background checks are appropriate and in some cases, legally mandated.


1.Tendering for new contracts

Employers can often be surprised to find out during their project tendering process that certain clients, (often government contracts), require them to have specific employee background checks in place, (such as a DBS check), in order to be considered for a contract. 

Such clients typically come from sectors relating to sensitive data, vulnerable people, finance, government, education or security. Employers are advised to check such tendering documents, carefully, well in advance of submission deadlines, (to avoid nasty surprises), and ensure sufficient time to complete any necessary employee background checks.


2. Promotions

Another logical time to background check an existing employee is prior to promoting them. This high profile case from Asda Walmart shows the value of re-screening employees prior to a promotion. A few years back, the retail chain’s then VP of Corporate Communications was found to have fabricated his CV. This fabrication was discovered during a routine pre-promotion assessment, having been missed during the original pre-hire screening process. This shows the value of pre-promotion background checks which act as a second, strategic check-point to catch any fraudulent CVs which slipped through the net during pre-employment screening.


3.Acquisitions

When acquiring a business there are no guarantees that the employees that you TUPE transfer in have been background checked at all, or to the standards that your business requires. Post TUPE transfer background checks will need to be made. For example, according to Home Office Guidance employers are advised to make a fresh right-to-work check within 60 days of the transfer of the business and employees under TUPE.  

You’ll also need to check whether TUPE transferred employees have the appropriate DBS clearance and how old the check is, and whether it is ‘in date’ in relation to your own policy on frequency of checks. You’ll need to assess the criminal background check for authenticity by following the DBS Identity Check process set out on the UK Government website. 

If the post-TUPE employees criminal background check doesn’t conform to requirements, the employee will need to complete a new criminal background check, and this will need to be at the employer’s expense as you can’t charge for this under TUPE.


4. Ongoing Checks

Criminal background checks will need to be carried out on a regular basis at a frequency appropriate to the role being performed. Some employers re-check criminal records every 3 years, but other sectors such as NHS agency bank staff are subject to annual scrutiny. 

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 makes it very important for employers to ensure that all employees driving on business have a valid driving license. Common pitfalls are that drivers forget to return their license for refresh and reissue once a ban has been served, and drivers move house and forget to update addresses. Rechecking driving licences can be a costly background checking exercise with a high administrative burden, which is why some organizations hand it over to a background check company.

If you are a Solo-regulated financial firm falling within the Senior Manager’s and Certification Regime you would have needed to have completed your initial Fitness and Propriety checks on existing/new hires from December 2019. You’ll then need to complete annual criminal background checks on existing employees falling under the regime.

Employment Screening is no longer just a one-time event occurring prior to hiring new staff. Background checking is an ongoing process which should occur at recognized points during the employment life-cycle to preserve the integrity of your business.


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