What checks can employers make on job applicants?

Employers may need to make certain checks on any new job applicants. Some jobs may require more stringent checks than others, but they must always be sure that employees are allowed to work in the UK. An employer can be fined up to £20,000 if they cannot show evidence that they checked an employee’s right to work, so make sure you have valid documents when applying for a new job.

For some jobs such as working in the healthcare industry or with children, the employer may need to carry out a criminal record check before hiring new employees. Criminal record checks are carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service (known as DBS) which used to be called the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). CRB checks are now known as DBS checks, but you may hear either term referring to the same thing.

Other jobs that require a DBS check when entering the profession are solicitors, barristers, veterinary surgeons and accountants. If a candidate has been asked for a DBS check but they are unsure if the job requires one, they can contact the DBS themselves for confirmation and advice. They can be contacted at csoesrie@b.s.o.kutmrevcsdsgigvu or via telephone on 03000 200 190. Visit the DBS website for more contact information.

Unless there is a specific need to check a person’s criminal record history for a job, it is against the law for employers to refuse to hire someone because of their spent criminal convictions.

Aside from criminal record checks, an employer can also ask for a health check. This can only be asked if it is a legal requirement such as eye tests for professional drivers, or because the job itself requires it for insurance purposes, such as cycle couriers.

The employer should include any information about health checks in any correspondence and should get written consent before requesting any information from a potential candidate’s doctor. The candidate can see the report before it is shared and can ask for it to be changed or withheld from the employer.

The employer must make sure that the checks do not discriminate against the candidate (such as only testing older people) or using the checks to discourage people from applying for the position. Any discrimination from an employer against a candidate because of a disability that doesn’t prevent them doing the job can be grounds for prosecution.

All employers are bound by data protection laws when handling information shared with them about candidates. It is their responsibility to keep your data safe from unauthorised access and candidates have a right to view a copy of the information held about them at any time. An employer can only request relevant information that is required for the job. For example, they can only ask about any motoring offences if driving is part of the job role.

Photo by: WOCinTech Chat, “Women in Tech 73” Oct 28, 2015 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution


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