As might be expected in a sector where employees come into regular contact with children and vulnerable adults, the health and social care sectors are awash with regulations concerning appropriate recruitment practices. These include the NHS Employment Check Standards
, The Care Act
, The Health and Social Care Act
, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act
and the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Fit and Proper Persons
The rather broad interpretation of what constitutes employment extends the scope for background checks to individuals such as bank staff, agency workers and volunteers. Failing to have safe recruitment practices in place can result in cautions or penalty notices being given to care providers. It can also affect the rating the CQC gives a provider under three of its five standard headings – Safe, Effective or Well-led. Going further still, both providers and individuals can be held to account through prosecution.
There are currently two common – but interlinked - challenges regarding background screening
in this sector. The first relates to the sector’s heavy use of overseas workers while the second is the danger of employing individuals with fake professional qualifications.
The latter (and a flurry of adverse media coverage around fake medical professionals) is encouraging more employers to check a candidate’s professional qualifications (and academic qualifications, where appropriate) at source, rather than accepting the candidate’s documentation at face value.
However, this isn’t always the case with foreign workers. In the interests of expediency, some employers will still accept the candidate’s own documentation when bringing workers in from overseas. Admittedly, verifying a foreign worker’s background can prove more complicated – but this is where a globally connected firm like Verifile can assist.
A comprehensive, best practice set of background checks in this sector will include a Right to Work check, identity checks and a Criminal Record Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
check. It’s always worth taking guidance on this final point, as there can be some confusion as to what the appropriate level of DBS check is and whether it needs to be accompanied by a Barred List check.
A full career history should be supplied by the candidate, starting at the first point of employment and detailing all gaps. This can either be captured using an online application form or in a CV, in which case a CV comparison
would be recommended.
A professional reference
should also be sought, from all previous roles where a candidate directly provided health or social care services or was involved with children or vulnerable adults. These are required to provide satisfactory evidence of their conduct and ability, rather than simply to confirm dates of employment and job roles. For NHS appointments, references covering the last three years must be obtained. However only one reference from the current or most recent employer is required for individuals already employed by the NHS.
Where relevant to the work they do, a candidate’s academic and professional qualifications should be verified, as well as all relevant professional registrations. A health assessment will also be required, with employers seeking information on how a candidate’s physical or mental health may affect their ability to perform tasks intrinsic to the regulated activity they undertake.
For senior appointments within the NHS, a Fit and Proper check will need to be completed. As an example of good governance, this must also include directorship and credit checks.
Although not currently mandatory, we expect to see social media checks featuring more prominently in the future, bearing in mind how recent high profile stories
about employees’ social media activity have raised questions over their suitability to work in the sector.
Checks that employers may want to consider running in this sector
Right to Work: We’ll ensure that a candidate’s documentation meets the current Home Office requirements. We can also repeat checks as and when needed for individuals who have a limited entitlement to remain in the UK.
Identity checks: To prevent employers falling victim to identity fraud, we can undertake electronic verification checks on identity documents provided by a candidate. Alternatively, we can provide online identity checks, using biographical data.
Criminal record checks: We’ll undertake the appropriate level of UK criminal record checks, subject to strict eligibility guidelines (with an additional Barred List check, where appropriate). We’re also able to obtain overseas criminal records for candidates with an international background.
Employment history: We can verify a candidate’s work history and references for the past three years, including checks on the existence and authenticity of all listed employers. Using our CV comparison service, we can also check for any discrepancies between the CV used to secure an interview and the subsequent findings of the full background check.
Professional references: Professional references should also be sought from previous line managers or supervisors for all roles where a candidate directly provided health or social care services or was involved with children or vulnerable adults. These are required to provide satisfactory evidence of their conduct and ability, rather than simply to confirm dates of employment and job roles.
Professional and academic qualifications: Where applicable, we can check the validity of someone’s professional accreditations or registrations while also checking that their academic qualifications are genuine. For all professional and academic qualifications, we’ll always check at source with the awarding body.
Fitness and propriety check: This is a self-declaration process covering topics such as any credit issues, directorships or convictions that a candidate may have had.
Credit checks: For senior management roles, we’ll establish a candidate’s identity, address history and financial status via credit referencing agency records. The search will reveal details of financial probity and information including County Court Judgements, bankruptcies and voluntary arrangements within the last six years. This search will be recorded on the candidate’s file but will not be visible to other parties and will not affect the candidate’s credit score.
Directorship checks: Also for senior management roles, we can check to establish whether a candidate holds any company directorships and whether or not they are disqualified from being a director.
Health assessment: An assessment of how a candidate’s physical or mental health may affect their ability to perform tasks intrinsic to the regulated activity they undertake.
International fraud and sanctions watchlists: We’ll check to see whether a candidate’s name appears on any of the hundreds of publicly available watchlists worldwide, relating to anything from terrorism and fraud through to being a barred or politically exposed person.
Social media checks: An increasingly popular – and relevant – check for employers keen to understand whether someone’s social media activity could damage their brand, reputation or client relationships. As well as highlighting illegal activity and undesirable characteristics, such checks can also play a part in authenticating a candidate’s employment history.
Driving licence checks: We’ll check that the candidate does indeed have a valid driving licence. We’ll also check for any endorsements or disqualifications currently on their licence.