If you have ever applied for a job then you’ll know that new employers will always ask for references. The purpose is to verify your past experience and qualifications. This can be especially important if you are applying for sensitive roles, such as in teaching or dealing with confidential information.
Whether you’re an employer or an employee, it’s important to understand what can be looked at in a background check and how far is too far. Knowing this will help if you feel discriminated against or unfairly dismissed after being taken on. If this happens you’ll want to speak to reputable employment lawyers.
The Background Check
An employer will ask for references from previous employers. This confirms you were employed by them for the designated period and that you performed the duties you said you did. As these skills are generally directly transferable to a new job, it’s essential that an employer confirms you have the right skills.
It should be noted, your previous employer cannot say anything derogative about you. They must legally confirm your role and when you worked for them, that’s it. If an employer gets just this on a reference they are likely to be suspicious regarding your performance at a previous firm.
Alongside references from a previous employer, your new employer may do a police check. This verifies whether you have a criminal history. However, this check cannot be done without your fingerprints and specific consent.
A working with children check can also be done if it is relevant for the role. It verifies that you are safe to work around and with children.
Information That Can’t Be Disclosed
While employers can be thorough with a background check, they are not allowed to ask or verify anything consider protected information. This includes your gender, marital status, age, sexual identity, or even whether you are disabled, (unless it is pertinent to your ability to undertake the job).
It’s worth noting that you must be informed of all checks being done before they commence. This will give you an opportunity to object or refuse consent.
Background checks give a new employer confidence in their decision to hire you. They verify your abilities, skills, qualifications, and even whether you are likely to fit in with the ethos of your new team. In short, they are a valuable tool and remain an important part of the employment process.
But, one thing that you won’t have any say over and any employer can do, is check your social media accounts. They can simply hop online and find you, along with all your posts. That means they will know what you do with your free time, how hard you like to party, and if you make derogative comments about your old boss or colleagues.
They may not disclose they have looked but it is likely to influence their decision. That’s why, if you’re job hunting, make sure your social media accounts are blocked to the general public and consider carefully before you post anything.