For the HR department or the employer to have a high level of confidence when hiring a new employee, screening and background checks of potential new starters can prove to be an invaluable process in the firm's recruitment stages.
Certain Australian industries mandate background checks. For example, in a number of Australian states and territories, a working with children check is mandatory for persons that engage in child related work.
Privacy regulations awareness
Along with having the awareness of the need for background checks, it is also important for recruiters working in HR departments or smaller employers to note that the information they gather from potential new hires should not be accessed without the informed consent from the potential new recruit and that the information collected is protected by the individual’s right to privacy, as per the Privacy Act 1988.
Furthermore, employers and workers in HR departments should also be aware that a potential new employee has the right to know the following:
- Why information is being requested.
- Who will have access to the personal information that is requested.,
- How the information requested will be utilised.
- That the potential employee has the right to correct any misinformation.
So what does common law require from employers?
History in it's not too distant past shows that several common law legal claims arise against organisations as a result of background screening processes gone wrong or in most instances, not having any screening process to determine the suitability of employee or contractor engagement. Such claims may include and are not limited to:
- Negligent hiring decisions.
- Invasion of privacy from firm’s sensitive access to information.
- Defamation cases involving hires.
- Interference with present employment e.g. with existing employees.
- Tortious interference with future new hires and employment prospects of the firm.
So how can employers and HR departments improve workplace safety?
Well that is a good question, and a basic starting point is conducting a national police check as part of the recruitment process. This is particularly important if workers in your organisation have direct or indirect access to vulnerable persons in the community.
An increasing number of Australian organisations are utilizing an online police check to assist them in reaching a goal of workplace safety and in some cases, reducing the legal risk of potential negligent hiring.
In Australia, a state based check like a police check NSW is in essence the same as a national police check. Both checks release disclosable court outcomes on a national scale in accordance with spent convictions legislation.
Third-party service providers whose main work is to conduct background screening for employers is commonly used by HR departments all over the world. These providers as a general rule, are better equipped to conduct thorough and accurate background screening, as they adhere to best practice guidelines and processes.
Services like Australian National Character Check have made the online police check process faster and efficient. The entire police check application can be completed in under 12 minutes using a PC, mobile phone or tablet. The process is also entirely online meaning applicants can complete the application in the comfort of their own home. Majority of the results get dispatched in 24 hours.
Cutting down to the chase
With the above put into perspective and community and workplace safety at the forefront, employers and human resource workers should be thorough when it comes to employment screening and verification processes. Take the wise step and go a little further by running background checks.