Pre-Employment Vetting and Social Media.

You have just held an interview and are about to make a job offer for that all important role, but first, you take a quick peep at the applicant’s social media channels.  What a great way to get to know the candidate right?  Stop. This can be a risky business.

It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:

 -  Age

 -  Being or becoming a transsexual person

 -  Being married or in a civil partnership

 -  Being pregnant or on maternity leave

 -  Disability

 -  Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin

 -  Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief

 -  Gender

 -  Sexual orientation

Don’t get me wrong, pre-employment checks can be very beneficial, but the recruitment decision should not be made solely on viewing social media pages as they can be extremely unreliable. Make sure an applicant is allowed ample time to respond to any online findings.

The Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) tells employers to “only use vetting where there are particular and significant risks involved to the employer, clients, customers or others, and where there is no less intrusive and reasonably practicable alternative.” You can read their full Employment Practices Code by clicking here.

When using social media vetting be sure to only seek from sites where relevant information will be revealed, e.g. to learn more about the qualifications of an applicant and to see if they will fit into your company’s family.

There are many social channels available for you to use but a study by Go-Gulf.com shows that the majority prefer Facebook for their vetting processes followed by Twitter and finally LinkedIn.

Why Pre-Check?

As an employer, you may wish to find out about the health of your candidate or any criminal records held.  For criminal activity, there is the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) which the uk government state “helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)”.

Basic, Standard and Enhanced checks are available.

The health of your candidate is also vital depending on the job on offer, for example: an electrical wireman may require a vision test to make sure they are not color defective (like myself!).  If the position being applied for is safety critical then a pre-employment drug and alcohol test is very common in the workplace.  It ensures future safety of employees and the company as a whole.  A full medical examination may be undertaken too.

Final Thoughts

Try to make it clear to the applicant as early as possible that vetting will take place (if that is your policy) and inform them how it will be conducted.  Also, try to carry out any pre-employment checks on an applicant as late as possible in the recruitment process.

Whatever checks are being undertaken, be sure to know the legalities and always protect yourself. 

The CIPD have an employer’s guide to pre-employment checks, for a more in depth read click here.  Also, keep yourself up to code on the Data Protection Act which can be found by clicking here.

By Adam Maggs - Business Development Manager - PlanetReference.com - 1st November 2017

 

 

 

 

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