Pre-employment checks

When you start a new job, your employer may wish to carry out a number of checks. The checks that they carry out could depend on the type of job you are going to do. Find out what kind of checks could be needed.

Identification documents

Before you start working for a new employer they will probably want proof that you have the right to work in the UK.

You will need to produce either a document or a combination of documents to confirm you are eligible, for example, a passport, a visa or a work permit if you are a non-national. Your employer should tell you which documents you need to show them

References

A job offer may depend on the employer getting a reference from your current employer, and maybe previous employers too.

Background checks

Where a job is security-related, an employer may want to carry out background checks. For a few financial service roles, these may also cover credit history. The employer should treat all job applicants in the same way during the recruitment process.

Equal opportunities monitoring

There is no law against collecting information on race and ethnicity when recruiting. Many organisations choose to do so, in order to monitor the effectiveness of their equal opportunities policy. However, you don't have to give this information if you don't want to.

An employer also must not treat you differently because of your sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion.

Health checks

You may have to have a health check if it's a legal requirement of the job (for example, having an eye test for a job as a driver). You should be told about any health checks in your offer letter.

Your employer may ask for a medical report, but if they want one, they must have policies for keeping it secure.

If you have a disability, it should not be used as a reason for singling you out for a health test without good reason. If you are, and you don't get the job as a result, you can complain to an Industrial Tribunal.

It's unlawful to treat people with disabilities less favourably because of their disability. This doesn't mean that it will always be unlawful for an employer to ask a person with a disability to have a health check, even if other candidates are not asked. It will depend on the nature of your disability and the needs of the job.

Checking qualifications

If you need particular qualifications, training or licences for a job, your employer may ask for proof that you have them. They should let you know if they are carrying out these checks and if they intend to keep copies of any relevant documents on file.

Criminal records checks

If you want to do any of the following, your employer must get a criminal record check on you:

  • work with children or vulnerable adults
  • work in a job that brings you into regular contact with children or vulnerable groups (for example, working in a school or a care home)
  • apply for a licence to drive a taxi
  • work with controlled drugs

You will be asked to complete an AccessNI application form and to return this to your employer. Your employer will also check your identity documents to make sure all the details on your application form are correct.

Withdrawing a job offer

If any check on you has has produced unsatisfactory results, an employer can withdraw a job offer even after you have accepted it. This applies so long as you were made aware before you accepted the job that the offer was on conditions.

Data protection issues

Your employer should only get information which is necessary and relevant to the check which they want to carry out. Your employer will also have to make sure that any use of personal information about you complies with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Your employment records must be kept secure and, unless retained in accordance with statutory requirements, be securely disposed of when you leave your employer. You have the right to see any information held on you. An employer must let you see this within 40 days of your request and may charge you a fee of up to £10.

Where to get help

The Labour Relations Agency (LRA) and Advice NI offer free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues.

If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, advice and support from them.

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