Go Back Up

Go back

The risks of not carrying out pre-employment checks on employees in the UK

Screening • Nov 28, 2023 9:51:23 AM • Written by: Georgia Reynolds

Pre-employment checks are a series of verifications that employers perform on job applicants to ensure they are suitable and eligible for a role. These checks may include verifying the applicant's identity, right to work in the UK, criminal record status, qualifications, references, health checks, and other relevant factors.

Why all businesses should do it
Pre-employment checks are not only a legal requirement for certain roles, such as those involving children, vulnerable adults, or national security, but also a good practice for any employer who wants to hire the best talent and avoid potential risks.

 "In 2020, a recruitment agency faced a £10,000 fine for failing to check the right to work of a migrant worker who was employed as a security guard at a government building."



Risks of neglecting Pre-employment checks

The repercussions of neglecting thorough pre-employment checks can expose employers to various legal, financial, and reputational consequences. Employers face the risk of:

1.    Hiring unqualified or incompetent employees: Without proper screening, employers may unwittingly bring on individuals who are ill-suited for the role. This could lead to poor performance, errors, and potential harm to colleagues or customers.

2.    Engaging dishonest or fraudulent employees: Inadequate checks increase the likelihood of hiring individuals with dishonest intentions, such as theft, data manipulation, or participation in illegal activities.

3.    Employing ineligible or illegal personnel: Failure to verify the right to work in the UK or a criminal history may result in hiring individuals who are ineligible or present a risk to the business.

4.    Legal, financial, and reputational consequences: Breaching immigration, data protection, or employment laws can result in fines, penalties, or legal action, while the ensuing negative publicity can lead to a loss of trust and damage to reputation.

Learning from past mistakes

There are many examples of where not carrying out pre-employment checks has gone wrong for employers in the UK:  
-In 2020, a recruitment agency faced a £10,000 fine for failing to check the right to work of a migrant worker who was employed as a security guard at a government building.

- A care home incurred a £4,000 penalty in 2019 for failing to check the criminal record of a care worker with a history of theft and fraud.

- A school faced a £3,000 fine in 2018 for not verifying the qualifications of a teacher who lied about holding a degree and teaching certificate.

- In 2017, a bank was fined £1.9 million for failing to check the identity and address of a customer who had opened an account with a fake passport and used it to launder money.

- A hospital was fined £200,000 in 2016 for failing to check the references of a doctor who had been dismissed from another hospital for misconduct and negligence.

The way forward: thorough and consistent checks

To navigate these pitfalls, employers are advised to conduct thorough and consistent pre-employment checks on all job applicants. This proactive approach has numerous benefits:

- Quality workforce: Screening ensures the hiring of qualified and competent employees who contribute positively to the organisation.

- Protecting assets and reputation: Employers can secure honest and trustworthy individuals who safeguard the business assets and reputation.

- Policy compliance: Hiring eligible and legal employees ensures compliance with organisational policies and regulations.

- Risk mitigation: Robust pre-employment checks help organisations avoid legal complications, fines, and penalties, fostering a secure work environment.

Pre-employment checks are not a mere formality but a strategic investment in building a robust and secure workforce. By consistently conducting thorough screenings, employers can insulate themselves from potential risks, ensure legal compliance, and maintain the trust and confidence of customers, partners, and investors.

Interested in discussing something you've read in one of our blogs?

Georgia Reynolds

Marketing Coordinator – Content