What Employers Should Know About Running Background Checks?


While you hire someone, you may feel the need for some additional information on a candidate. After all, there are chances that the applicant may give you false or incomplete information on their application.

Meanwhile, there are some employees who don’t want you to know certain facts about themselves that may put them in a difficult position or disqualify them from getting the job. Thus, it is generally a good idea to run a little background check before you make the final job offer.

Even so, you don’t have an unfettered right to dig into someone’s’ personal affairs. Job Applicants have rights in relation to their personal information. So, to protect yourself legally and to protect an applicant’s privacy rights, you can follow a few legal procedures – like for example., getting the employee/applicant’s signature on written consent before you access their personal records.

Below are a few of our recommendations:

A written consent

It is always best to ask the applicant or your employee for their written consent with their signature before conducting a background check. Explain clearly to them what exactly you plan to check and which method you plan to follow to do the research. This also provides the applicant the chance to take their names out themselves if there is something that they don’t want you to know.

A written consent also stops the applicant from later claiming that you violated their privacy. If they refuse to sign a consent, you may decide to not hire such a person.

Ensure background check is purely in regards to the job

Stick to the information that is pertinent to the position you are hiring. For e.g., if you are hiring an assistant and a security manager, a criminal background check is imperative for the security manager, but depending on the circumstance may not be necessary in the case of an assistant.

Don’t overkill

Employers get into trouble all the time for digging into more than what is necessary. You don’t have to carry out an extensive investigation on every candidate and even if you do, you don’t need an in-depth detail about every possible issue. If you find yourself starting to do checks with the neighbours or performing credit checks, you need to step back a little.

A note to remember for employers

All employees have the right to know:

  1. Why the personal information is being requested
  2. Who will have access to the information and how the data will be used

They also have the right to file a complaint against any third parties who mishandles their information. Other than these general tips, there are particular rules that apply to different types of information: –

  1. Working with children checks – This type of background check is different from the regular criminal inspection and must be done separately. State and Territory governments are responsible for the administration and operation of child protection services. As such, it is best to refer to the applicable state and territory legislation. For NSW, working with children checks are governed by the Child Protection (Working with Children) Act2012 (NSW).
  2. Police Checks (otherwise known as National Police Checks or Criminal Record Checks) – You can perform police checks on your prospective employee via three ways
  3. a) you can direct them to an accredited body or an Australian police agency (if you need police checks on an infrequent basis);
  4. b) Become a customer of an accredited body (if you need police checks on a more frequent basis);
  5. c) Become an accredited body and submit police checks on behalf of your employees (if you need a large volume of checks-500 checks in a 5-year period).

Police checks include filling out the appropriate paperwork. Any person 14 or older can request police checks for the purpose of gaining employment.

In addition to the aforementioned background checks, employers can ensure the integrity of their employees by performing qualification checks, credit checks, and reference checks, etc.

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