Hiring the right team is crucial for startups, especially in the early stages of growth, so it's important to ensure that you conduct the right checks when bringing on new employees to the team. Carrying out appropriate pre-employment checks will safeguard the business and help protect you against hiring employees who could cause headaches down the line by bringing the company into disrepute or causing difficulties with colleagues and customers alike.
There are several pre-employment checks that are generally recommended, regardless of the role the employee is applying for:
- Right to Work in the UK - Regardless of the role that you are hiring for, this is a requirement by law. Failing to carry out such checks is not an offence but can be subject to civil and criminal penalties for employing illegal workers. To check eligibility, the workers' original documents must be seen and you should check they are valid. We recommend that you keep track of the date they were checked too. The Home Office has a Three-step checking process of whether someone has a right to work in the UKm, this can be found here. Remember, you will need to check any applicant has the right to work in the UK, but this must be done consistently, avoiding issues with discrimination such as on the ground of race.
- Satisfactory References - Requesting references is good practice rather than a legal requirement.
- Criminal Record Check (DBS) - DBS checks should only be conducted if there is a specific need. It is unlawful to refuse employment on the grounds of spent convictions. However, conditional offers can be made on the basis of a satisfactory DBS in instances when working with children or the vulnerable.
- Medical Questionnaire/ examination - During an interview, it is illegal to ask a prospective employee any questions around health under the Equality Act 2010. The only exception to this is asking if any reasonable adjustments for interview are required at the assessment. Once a conditional offer of employment is made you can ask health related questions, however it is important to note that employees do not have to disclose any disability or illness they may have.
- Qualification checks - There are many counterfeit certificates out there so make sure to check the original certificates or if you’re concerned about their authenticity you should contact the board or reputable organisation directly for verification.
When reviewing an individual for employment there may be a need to go beyond the standard checks, this is often role dependent. Specific to job role checks may include background checks in areas other than employment, this may include, driving specific checks an organisation may need to include when reviewing an individual, driving licence, address, identity, address or credit checks.