The Importance Of Background Screening: Safeguarding Your Organisation From Day One



An essential part of the onboarding process, background screening provides an opportunity to uncover hidden details you can't afford to miss!
UK Employment and HR
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An essential part of the onboarding process, background screening provides an opportunity to uncover hidden details you can't afford to miss! In this article, we explore why background screening is so important and how it can help you make informed and impartial decisions.

What is background screening?

Background screening involves examining an individual's professional and educational background, as well as criminal history, to verify their suitability for employment. To best protect your organisation, we recommend that these checks, which can include reference checks and credit history, be conducted before the individual commences employment. However, they may also be carried out to assess ongoing suitability in some roles and industries, ensuring compliance and maintaining a safe work environment.

Why is the background screening process important?


Background screening allows you to effectively mitigate any unknown risks to the organisation, saving valuable time, money, and even reputational damage. Additionally, it can play a crucial role in reducing employee turnover by enabling employers to make more accurate hiring decisions.


Individuals at all levels within an organisation now have greater access to extensive amounts of confidential information concerning employees, the business, and potentially even clients' businesses. Ensuring that those working within your organisation are trustworthy, compliant, and well-suited for their roles is pivotal to safeguarding not only your business but also your most valuable asset—your employees.

Identifying the gaps

In many cases, background screening will identify no cause for concern. However, it helps you to spot any red flags or potential risks that may not have been raised or picked up during the hiring process, such as criminal records, financial instability, or discrepancies in employment history. By uncovering this information before hiring, you can mitigate the risk of employing individuals who may pose a threat to your organisation's reputation, security, or culture. Renewing screenings also allows you the opportunity to take necessary action if needed.

Legal verification

Verifying an employee's eligibility to work in the U.K. is a crucial aspect of background screening and is a legal requirement for all employers. As of February 2024, inaccurately verifying an individual's right to work can lead to a civil penalty (fine) of up to £60,000 per ‘illegal' worker. For further details on the latest requirements and penalties, you can refer to our Right to Work article here.

Who should be undertaking background screening?

Regulated Industries

Many industries are subject to regulations that require employers to conduct specific checks on their employees. Those in regulated roles (such as Financial Conduct Authority ‘FCA' or Solicitors Regulation Authority ‘SRA') must have additional criminal, employment history, and financial checks conducted to comply with regulatory and legal guidelines. Without these checks, the employee may be unable to complete the full scope of their responsibilities.

Under the Senior Managers Certification Regulations (SM&CR), the FCA also requires firms to check that individuals in regulated roles are ‘fit and proper' on an ongoing basis through annual assessments. Similarly, the SRA demands that individuals in some positions be assessed regularly to be deemed ‘fit and proper' for their role.

Volunteers and Vulnerable individuals

Individuals who operate in a role with access to vulnerable people will need an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service Check (DBS), also known as a Criminal Record Check. These should be refreshed every three years to ensure their continued suitability to support vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, those with disabilities, and medical professionals.

How we can support you with the background screening process

Conducting background screening, and knowing what checks are required, can be a laborious process for any organisation, which is why we are here to help.

As an individual working remotely, collating and verifying the necessary documentation to proceed with the required checks can provide its own difficulties; extending the time, money, and resources needed for the checks to be conducted.

Whether you are a small business with limited resources or a large organisation with other pressing demands, Buzzacott's HR Consultancy team can support you by:

  • Establishing the most appropriate screening requirements,
  • Conducting the required checks on your behalf,
  • Liaising directly with the individual, allowing you to focus on other pressing priorities,
  • And, we'll provide you with a comprehensive report alongside guidance on understanding the results and navigating complex people issues.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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