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Should Start-ups Screen Their Employees?

Growing your start-up to the level where you are able to take on employees is incredibly exciting and can make a huge difference to the future of your business. If you are able to find an employee who fully understands your concept and vision, holds the skills and experience you require and is proactive in their role, they can be really instrumental in reaching your goals. Hire the wrong person however, and they can drive your business backwards in no time.

So, it’s super important to get the right people on board at the beginning; the question is, how can you be sure you’re hiring the right person for the job. That’s where pre-employment screening comes in.

What is pre-employment screening?

Otherwise known as ‘employee vetting’ or ‘background checking’, pre-employment screening is the process of ensuring your candidate’s credentials meet the applicant’s claims. There are a wide variety of screening checks that can be done, however the most common are right to work, referencing, education and qualification, credit and criminal record checks. It is a process typically done once a candidate has accepted the offer of employment, before they start at the company or during their first few weeks. The purpose is to identify and eliminate any security risks, as well as establishing the experience and integrity of your new starter to make sure you have the right person for the job.

Isn’t screening just for large companies?

Most certainly not! This is a common misconception, but background screening is actually essential for companies of all sizes, including small businesses and start-ups. The stakes can actually be higher when recruiting for smaller companies. Firstly, it is more likely that your new starter will have access to a wider range of information in the early stages of their employment due to the smaller, more condensed team structure. They could use this information to commit fraud, theft or even leak the details of your staff and customers. Secondly, a start-up will feel the effects of a compliance breach much harder than a large company, for example each illegal individual hired could potentially mean £20,000 in fines. For a start-up, that could easily be the difference between profit and loss.

4 Key background checks for start-ups:

Right to Work Checks

As an employer, you are legally required to ensure your new starter has the right to work in the UK. As we just mentioned, the penalty for failing to do so is up to £20,000 per illegal worker, which is no small price to pay for failing to run a background check. If your employee is from the UK the process is simple, needing only to check their UK passport and ensure they are a British Citizen. You should be aware of the possibility of identity theft and fraudulent and stolen passports however, which is why at Reed Screening we run Amberhill checks and assess the Met Police database to ensure the documentation is valid. If your employee is not a British National then the process may be even more complex, particularly for EU Nationals as new Brexit legislation comes into effect during 2021. For advice on right to work checks for EU Nationals going forward, check out our Brexit Recruitment E-Book.

Referencing Checks

Recruitment specialists Onrec found that over 50% of applicants have lied about their past work experience on their CV. This proves how crucial it is for your business to ensure that your employee has the experience they claim. Completing a comprehensive work history check ensures their experience is legitimate and that they are able to fulfil the role within your business. It also helps you to understand how they behave within the workplace having spoken with previous managers, who may shed light on issues that otherwise would have been unknown. As a busy start-up owner or recruiter, managing a troublemaker is the last thing you need.

Higher Education Checks

Depending on your industry, qualifications can also be a huge factor in candidate selection and may be essential for the role. Anyone can claim experience and qualifications, but it’s essential to root out any lies.  The Guardian found that whilst only 11% of those surveyed claimed to falsely hold a degree, 40% inflated their grade due to the need to compete against a rising average. In reality, a candidate with a lower real grade may lack the skills required to carry out the role to a satisfactory level, meaning they could fall behind. As a start-up you will likely lack the funds to go through the recruitment process a second time, leaving you with an underperforming employee and no way back. So, don’t believe everything a candidate claims; it’s always safer to check.

Criminal Record Checks

Finally, it is important to keep yourself, your customers and your other employees safe through a criminal record check. There are some industries where this is compulsory, such as within companies that work with children under the age of 18, however it is important for every business. Firstly, hiring a candidate who does not disclose a criminal conviction is most likely not a trustworthy hire. Secondly, if a candidate holds a history and pattern of criminal activity, you could be putting your business at risk to fraud, theft or data leaks, and could even be putting your staff and customers at risk of mental and physical harm. To protect your business and safeguard your stakeholders we run basic, standard and enhanced criminal record checks to reveal any criminal convictions, cautions or reprimands (both spent and unspent), and whether your candidate is on the children's and/or adults barred lists.

How can we help?

At Reed Screening we are experts in background checks and know exactly how to help you stay compliant and safeguard your new business.  As a start-up owner or recruiter, we know your time is limited, and that's why we've created a range of pay-per-candidate screening packages designed for small businesses. Making pre-employment screening quick and easy, these packages can slot into your recruitment process with ease, as and when you welcome a new starter. With different levels of security to choose from, you can align your screening needs to the security risk associated with your role, and if you can’t quite find the screening package you’re looking for, get in touch.