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Can Verifile assist with national security vetting?

Security checks (also known as security clearance) can only be processed and approved by the Ministry of Defence’s UK Security Vetting department (UKSV). This process is often confused with screening candidates in line with British Standard 7858. Complying with BS7858 is compulsory for anyone looking to work within the licensed security industry but has nothing to do with national security clearance. However, one element of gaining security clearance (as well as the related Counter Terrorism and Developed Vetting checks) is that individuals must be screened in line with the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) – and this is something that we can assist with. This process involves checking a candidate’s right to work, identity, criminal record and employment history. To read more about BPSS and its application, refer to our coverage of the Public Sector:

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What do background checks entail and how far back do they go?

Background checks can cover a range of topics – from checking someone’s eligibility to work in the UK or whether they have a criminal record, through to verifying their academic qualifications or their professional background. The composition of the checks a business decides to run is determined by a combination of regulation (where applicable) and risk management, considering the dangers that could arise by employing someone who is not everything they claim to be. As for timescales, they vary from check to check. However, most employers typically check employment and activity periods ranging from three to ten years.

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How do you handle the screening process from a candidate’s perspective?

We know that screening is an important part of your recruitment and onboarding process. It may also be one of the first touch-points that a candidate has with your business and your brand. We therefore aim to make it as straightforward and pleasant as possible for your candidates. Inevitably, they will have questions though. To see how we respond to the most common of these – and to get a sense of how we handle this process – please review our Candidate Information Page which includes a definitive list of FAQs for candidates

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Can Verifile assist with overseas background checks?

Absolutely. We know that, increasingly, employment screening is a global undertaking. Recruiting staff from abroad brings a raft of new considerations into any employer’s screening programme. The same applies when recruiting British employees who have lived or worked abroad previously. The types of checks that employers want to run don’t change – but the way in which those checks are conducted in different countries does. We currently run thousands of international checks per month, in over 150 countries. The data we work with is drawn directly from an extensive portfolio of data providers from around the world. Working directly with the data source in this way, rather than through a third party provider, allows us to understand the data better. It also means we know exactly what we’re getting; we know how best to use the data to keep our clients compliant; we have quicker turnaround times; and we benefit from cost savings, which are passed on to our clients.

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How long do these checks remain valid for?

It’s worth remembering that any background check only ever provides you with information on an individual at that particular point in time. At any subsequent point, an employee’s circumstances could change, meaning they may subsequently fail to meet the pre-employment screening criteria you had in place when they joined. They may have picked up a criminal record, a County Court Judgement (CCJ) or been declared bankrupt. They may have accrued points on their driving license or even lost their license. They may be dealing with family issues, ill-health, debt or other highly personal issues which may put them under pressure and lead them to act inappropriately. Alternatively, they may even have set up a separate business of their own, which could conflict with, or detract attention away from, their role within your business. This is why regular, ongoing monitoring of existing employees is becoming more popular. Rather than thinking about how long a check may remain valid for, consider how long you would want to go without re-checking an existing employee.

How does Verifile handle client and candidate information?

All client and candidate information is handled with the utmost care. Security is something we’ll never compromise on or take chances with. To demonstrate to clients that we have the framework within which data security (as well as data accuracy and integrity) is guaranteed, we have invested heavily in accreditations and certifications – and will continue to do so. We are certified to ISO 27001 (Information Security), for example, proving that we have stringent information security protocols in place. We’ve been awarded our Cyber Essential Plus certification, confirming our commitment to data security by having subjected ourselves to external assessment against phishing and hacking, and we also hold the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) Gold Award, demonstrating our expertise in the field of security screening. A key component of our own security screening sees every one of our employees and contractors vetted to meet and greatly exceed the criteria of BS7858 (an important framework for conducting background checks in highly secure environments). We encourage our clients and their candidates to read our Privacy Notice which has very detailed explanations.

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What sort of information might background checks reveal?

On the whole, most checks should (hopefully!) reveal that a candidate has been nothing less than truthful regarding their personal and employment details. However, a comprehensive screening process can also highlight issues that merit further investigation or instances where a candidate has been somewhat selective with the information they’ve provided. Are there gaps in a candidate’s employment history for example? If so, what were they actually doing during this time? Do their professional or academic qualifications come from a bona fide institution? Is there anything suspicious about their professional or character references? Does their credit record suggest they’ve been in financial difficulties previously? Are they actually eligible to work in the UK and do they have any convictions or sanctions that should prevent them from working in a regulated sector? The answers to some of these questions may legally preclude an individual from working in the role they’ve applied for; others may simply cast doubts on their honesty and integrity. To see how we respond to the most common of these – and to get a sense of how we handle this process – please review our Candidate Information Page which includes a definitive list of FAQs for candidates.

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Is background screening a legal requirement? If not, what checks should I be doing and why?

There are several industries where regulatory compliance is a critical consideration within an organisation’s pre-employment screening activities. Whether it’s the Senior Manager Certification Regime in financial services, the Baseline Personnel Security Standard in the public sector or CQC Employment Check Standards within the health and social care sector, the obligations these regulations (and several others like them) place on employers can never be overlooked. Regulation doesn’t affect every employer, however. For every regulated sector, there are far more whose screening procedures are driven by little more than accepted best practice and a desire to do the right thing. The risks inherent in having the ‘wrong sort’ of person within their workforce are what matter here, not appeasing a regulator. In such cases, there’s rarely such a thing as a standard set of checks that a business should run. It’s about considering where the greatest risks lie and creating a package of checks that best suit that employer’s needs, addressing key areas such as identity, experience and any relevant credentials.

Whose technology and/or software does Verifile use to underpin its services?

Since 2008, we’ve used our own in-house screening software. We’ve continued to develop it ever since and currently plough over 10% of our turnover into technology Research & Development. Going down this route, rather than paying a license fee to a third party software provider, allows us to customise the client or candidate experience, improve processes and address inefficiencies as we see fit. We’re therefore in full control of our own technological destiny, something which continuous feedback from our clients helps us to shape.

Can we integrate our company systems with your screening platform?

Yes, you can. Many of our clients want to connect their Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to our own systems, allowing information and service requests to pass seamlessly between the two. This speeds up processing times and eliminates the errors that may otherwise arise as a result of having to enter data manually. This integration can be achieved through Verifile’s application programming interface (API); a set of programming instructions, standards and tools that allow one system to access another. By using our API, clients can automate their screening processes and avoid having to operate across two separate platforms. Orders can be placed at the click of a button and progress updates and final reports provided directly to the client ATS.