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| Criminal Record Checks
February 25, 2020
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Latest news from AccessNI

AccessNI have issued their latest newsletter with a whole host of updates and information for people using their services. Verifile’s Business Improvement team have handpicked the topics they think you need to know.

Working in premises/establishments regulated by Regulation & Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA)

Part V of the Police Act (Criminal Records)(Disclosure) Regulations 2009 enables RQIA to check senior managers in, and owners of, care homes as “suitable people”.

AccessNI have asked that all counter signatories are made aware of updated guidance. AccessNI say they continue to receive applications requesting barred list checks for positions which do not include health care and/or personal care duties.

The following will help you decide if a request is appropriate:

  • Only staff employed to provide health care or personal care within an adult care home, and in regulated activity, should seek an enhanced disclosure with an (adults) barred list check
  • Others employed in an adult care home would be eligible for an enhanced check (no barred list), on the basis this was previously a specified establishment, and provided they have opportunity for contact with vulnerable adults and can meet the frequency/intensity test
  • Those temporarily working in a care home, such as maintenance staff, are only eligible for an enhanced check (no barred list) where they meet the frequency/intensity test for the same home. That is more likely to arise where the person is employed directly by the care home, e.g. a gardener rather than, for example, a lift engineer who is under contract to several homes. But each individual case needs to be considered on its merits.
Further Education Colleges - Eligibility for AccessNI Disclosure checks

Individuals working in a Further Education College (with under 18s), who are not in positions of Regulated Activity, are eligible for an enhanced disclosure certificate with no barred list check. This is on condition that they meet the frequency requirement (once per week or four times a month).

Cleaners, auxiliary staff and administrative staff in these establishments are eligible for an enhanced disclosure with no barred list check on condition that they meet the frequency requirement.

Public Services Card (Ireland)

AccessNI has received further clarification on the use of the Public Services Card (Ireland) as an acceptable ID document.

As AccessNI is not regarded as a ‘Specified Body’ under Schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, they can no longer include this card in their Group 2B documentation.

Accordingly, the following AccessNI documentations have been updated:
  • Guide to identity checking can be found here
  • AccessNI PIN notification and ID validation for registered bodies can be found here
  • AccessNI PIN notification and ID validation for responsible bodies can be found here
EU Exit - ROI and EU checks

AccessNI has confirmed that, with the UK having now left the EU, information can continue to be sought from the Irish authorities for enhanced applications, where the individual lives or has lived in the past five years in the Republic of Ireland.

They can also obtain information from another 12 EU countries where a national of one of these countries applies for an enhanced check working with children in Northern Ireland.

This remains the position during the designated transition period after the UK leaves the EU. Further information about the position after transition ends will be provided as soon as it’s known.

You can read AccessNI: Newsletter 32 in full here.

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| Referencing and Verification Services
February 24, 2020
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Reasons why you should perform background checks on all new hires

Finding and retaining staff is an inevitable expense of business, for all but the humblest garage start-up.

A study at U.C. Berkeley found that hiring a new employee can cost as much as $4K without counting salary. That figure rises to $7K for employees at the level of management or specialized professionals. Even in the best-case scenario, a successful hire still leaves a dent in the company’s bottom line for a while. An unsuccessful hire just wastes that money and forces you to start over again. This is one of the most cost-focused arguments to run a background check.

Criminal history, liability, and your company

It is only natural for anyone applying for a position to present their best face to you. It is up to you to vet a candidate and find out if their history includes criminal convictions which would make them a risky proposition. But beyond that, being negligent in employing someone in a sensitive position can expose you to liability from other employees, customers, or the public. Some examples of scenarios where a company can be liable for a bad hire include:

  • DUI (Driving Under Influence) history in a driving position

  • Theft/embezzlement /financial fraud in a position that will handle money

  • Identity theft in a position that will have access to customer data

  • Assault/violent record placed in a public-facing position

  • Sex offender in a position that’s part of a team

Any of these kinds of cases can be brought into court as charges that your company is liable for damages as a result of your negligence. This is a negative outcome on top of the damages or losses to your company and the cost of hiring a new person to fill that position.

Checking credentials

It would seem that proving a candidate’s educational credentials would be a simple matter of viewing a diploma, but that’s not the case. There are several ways in which academic certifications can turn out to be fake. Diplomas can be obtained from a diploma mill, or they can be outright counterfeit forgeries.

Above that, there is such thing as fraud and corruption in academic circles, as well as student fraud such as purchased essays or bribed university officials. A little scrutiny and investigation into the background check process can root out at least some attempts at academic falsification. Paying attention to any red flags raised in the credentials check can save you the later embarrassment of hiring an impostor in a professional position.

Company reputation

We live in an age of easy information access, where one critical Yelp review can sink your company’s reputation. While customers can freely gossip about your employee’s service, sites like Glassdoor are also available for prospective candidates to check your reputation on the employment-end. If you are unlucky enough to have an incident where one co-worker had an unpleasant experience with an improperly vetted hire, future candidates might shy away from applying to your company.

Harvard Business Review reports that a bad reputation costs a company an extra 10% for all future hires. Once word gets out that your company has bed hiring practices, it becomes that much harder to attract the talent you need. This is an unavoidable reality when the job market is competitive. All other metrics being equal, people like to work at a job where they feel safe and secure.

Job seekers tend to avoid companies with aspects like a high turnover rate, which is also a symptom of low-quality hiring.

Conducting a background check

As an employer, you’re responsible for compliance with all laws regarding fair hiring practices. This is simple enough if you stick to some common-sense rules:

  • Always inform the subject that you are running a background check on them

  • Get their signature on the release form

  • Do not make considerations that could be construed as discrimination against race, gender, orientation, or beliefs

  • Remember that in criminal matters, an arrest, mugshot, or trial means nothing without a conviction

  • Give the candidate a fair chance to answer for your findings

A one-on-one sit-down is recommended with the candidate. Everyone is different and few people are without a single questionable incident on their record. Your candidate might be able to clear up misunderstandings in their record.

There are even some cases where you can have a bad mark on your record that you weren’t aware of, thanks to identity theft or simple clerical errors. Going over the candidate with the results can help illuminate the undisputed truth of their record.

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| Criminal Record Checks | Referencing and Verification Services
February 24, 2020
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The Body Shop will start hiring the first person who applies for any retail job

Almost all retailers run background checks on prospective employees—one of the many obstacles for people who were formerly incarcerated and are now trying to find a job. For other job seekers, a drug screening for marijuana might cost them a position even in states where recreational use is legal. This summer, the Body Shop will become the first large retailer to embrace a different approach, called “open hiring.” When there’s an opening, nearly anyone who applies and meets the most basic requirements will be able to get a job, on a first-come, first-served basis.

The company piloted the practice, which was pioneered by the New York social enterprise Greyston Bakery, in its North Carolina distribution center at the end of 2019. “We’re not asking for your background check,” says Andrea Blieden, the general manager of the Body Shop for the U.S. “We’re not asking for you to be drug screened. And there’s only three questions to get a job. It’s, ‘Are you authorized to work in the U.S.? Can you stand for up to eight hours? And can you lift over 50 pounds?’ If those three questions are answered, then we will give you a chance to come work in our distribution center.”


At Greyston, this approach to hiring is a fundamental part of the business, which sells baked goods to customers such as Whole Foods and Ben & Jerry’s. “At the heart of it, Greyston’s mission is to impact people facing barriers to employment,” says CEO Mike Brady. The social enterprise’s slogan reads, “We don’t hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people.” When there’s an opening, the job is filled from a list of people looking for work. New hires start as apprentices and get training in both how to do the job and basic life skills; those who decide to stay after the apprenticeship get an entry-level job and the opportunity to advance. The system works well enough that the company sold 8 million pounds of brownies in 2019, making $22 million. This year, Greyston launched a nonprofit, the Center for Open Hiring, in 2018 to help other businesses implement the same process.

“There was then a lot of momentum around business as a force for good, and we were leveraging that momentum and began to work on a strategy to scale open hiring,” Brady says. “And there’s now, as we all know, a ton of tailwind around just finding employees and getting talented people in the organization. Thankfully, people are thinking differently about how to bring good people into their business.”

Roughly a year ago, the Body Shop learned about the approach, when Greyston gave the company a presentation along with other social enterprises and activists who were invited to an internal launch of a new brand purpose—”We exist to fight for a fairer, more beautiful world.” Greyston’s talk resonated. “It really ignited all of us to think about how we can become a more inclusive employer and how we can implement open hiring practices in our business,” says Blieden.

By June, the retailer’s entire HR team in the U.S. had flown to the bakery’s manufacturing plant to see, firsthand, how the bakery hired staff and helped its employees build careers. The team visited again in September and then began meeting with supervisors at its own distribution center, saying that they wanted to move quickly and pilot the new approach by the time the center was hiring seasonal staff for the holidays. The distribution center hires more than 200 people as seasonal staff.


The results were striking: Monthly turnover in the distribution center dropped by 60%. In 2018, the Body Shop’s distribution center saw turnover rates of 38% in November and 43% in December. In 2019, after they began using open hiring, that decreased to 14% in November and 16% in December. The company only had to work with one temp agency instead of three.

Supervisors told Blieden that seasonal staff were approaching them to share their stories. “They said things like, ‘I’ve been struggling to find a job. This is one of the only places that would hire me, and I’m not going to mess this up,'” she says. “When you give people access to something that they’re struggling to find, they’re very committed to working hard and keeping it.”

Greyston has seen similar benefits with retention rates. A Johns Hopkins study also found that employers who “banned the box” and stopped asking applicants if they had a criminal record also had less turnover. The Body Shop also saw increases in productivity—likely not solely due to the change in staff, it says, but a sign that both internal processes and staff were improving. “That’s just a demonstration that we have these biases in our recruiting system that are preventing good people from getting into the workforce,” Brady says. At the Body Shop, the money saved in recruiting, screening résumés, interviews, and background checks will be redirected into training, employee benefits, and programs to support new employees with challenges such as transportation issues that can make it difficult for employees to get to work on time.

The Body Shop plans to expand the practice to all of its retail stores this summer, where it employs around 800 people, and as many as 1,000 during the holidays. It’s not a pilot, but a permanent shift in how it handles hiring. “I think for us, it was, if you believe in it, just go ahead and do it,” says Blieden. “The more time that you spend trying to figure out how you’re going to do it—and what is it going to look like, and what do people need to be worried about, and what do you have to prepare for—the more you hinder your company’s ability to do something like open hiring. Because you create the bias and you create the barrier. So for us, in our distribution center, the biggest learning was do it. Go fast. Try it and see what happens.”

It’s something that Greyston hopes will inspire more companies to follow. “The Body Shop acted with urgency because they saw the need,” Brady says. “And I hope other businesses that learn about this model can learn from the Body Shop’s example and act with the same level of urgency, because our community needs change. And businesses need to adopt good new business models that work for them.”

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