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  • What employment checks do Government Councils in Australia need?

    Even in a bid to hire the best talents for vacant or open roles, employers will not compromise the safety or integrity of their workplace and it is the same with government councils in Australia. One of the requirements for applying for a role with government councils is to prove your identity and suitability through various background checks.

    The Employment Check is an essential background check for any paid role or volunteer position in Australia. If it is for the government or any sensitive position, the applicant generally must include the check result as a part of their application.

    Below we outline good practice guidelines for pre-employment checks for Government councils in Australia.

    • What are Employment Checks?

    The employment Check includes many background checks that an employer or recruiting agency requests of applicants/candidates. The various background checks that make up an employment check may vary based on the employer's deepening of the role's relevance.

    Some of the popular employment Checks include;

    • Qualification Check

    The first thing that should qualify any applicant for a job is the necessary certificate, knowledge or memberships stipulated in the requirement. A candidate who doesn't possess the required qualifications should not even qualify for the "interview" phase.

    The qualification check is paramount of all the background checks; it confirms that the candidate is technically and academically capable for the role or any position they may hold in the establishment. Candidates can complete the qualification check by submitting copies of their

    • Certificates,
    • Memberships,
    • Licenses,
    • Resume,
    • Other proof of the qualification.

    • Employment Reference Check

    The government council may also inquire into the candidate’s history with their previous employers. Most times, a candidate's history in a corporate system can reveal a lot to the new employer. There are many ways to verify a candidate's past relationship with employers; most employers request a reference or referee reports.

    Furthermore, an employer can send correspondence or request to the previous employer to request a summary of the candidate's relationship.

    Employing a notorious candidate for being a bad employee or a bad corporate worker can be detrimental to the Council or its organisational structure.

    • Identification and Right to Work Check

    All other background checks will void if the candidate is not legally permitted to work in Australia. The right to work check is commonly referred to as a VEVO Check and outlines the candidates legal right to work in Australia.

    The Government Council should request essential documents that prove the identity of the candidate. Generally, Councils use a 100-point system to estimate the number and type of ID the candidate must provide.

    Some of the documents the Council may request to fulfil an Identity and Right to Work Check include;

    • Visa (only those that allow the candidate to engage in paid work)
    • Passports,
    • Photo identity card with name and signature issued by an Australian Government (e.g. Drivers License),
    • Australian Birth Certificate,
    • Australian Passport.

    • Criminal Background Check (CBC)

    The Criminal Background Check is one of the most popular checks in Australia; almost all businesses, enterprises, and employers use the CBC as part of their recruitment process. The Criminal background check is a search and comparison of the candidate’s data on the Australian Criminal Database,

    If a person has a disclosable conviction in Australia, it will appear on their criminal background check in Australia.

    There are many ways to do a Criminal Background check in Australia, depending on the preference of the Council. However, most candidates prefer to apply for the Police Check online because it tends to be faster and more convenient than other traditional methods.

    The Criminal Background Check reveals criminal details of the applicants relevant to the purpose of the Check. For example, a person applying for the role of an educator or teacher will have Criminal Background Check results that disclose any of this information;

    The Government council should ideally check and evaluate all candidates based on the Criminal background check to assess their suitability for the role.

    • Working with Children Check (WWCC)

    The WWCC or WWVP relates to the candidate's history around children in the past, including any spent convictions or ongoing charges.

    The WWCC is essential, especially where the candidate gets public roles that entail close contact with children.

    • Working with Vulnerable People Check

    If the role involves proximity to vulnerable people or those with special needs, a government council in Tasmania or the ACT may need the applicant to submit a Working with Vulnerable People Check. The WWVP evaluates the candidate based on their criminal records and relevant conviction history.

    In some Australian States and Territories (e.g. in the ACT and Tasmania), the check is referred to as a “Working with Vulnerable People Check” and the definition for ‘vulnerable people’ is further expanded to include vulnerable people and not only children.

    • Medical Checks

    As the candidates move to the final stages of their recruitment, the Council may request that they submit a medical check. Even when a candidate is qualified for the role or position, the Council may need to evaluate their health or other fitness levels based on the role they will be performing.

    For example, people with nasal or respiratory problems may not be a suitable selection for a role that requires proximity to dust, nanoparticles, choking chemicals, smoke, soot, and poorly ventilated places. This is particularly important for the health and safety of the candidate.

    Employers should be aware of the underlying and essential aspects of their candidate's health to assign them to roles correctly.

    The medical Check can be proven by a doctor's report or certification, especially if the position involves;

    • Sudden/Sharp movements;
    • Lifting or conveying heavy substances;
    • Operating complex and sensitive machines;
    • Working in isolated areas;
    • Dealing with chemicals.

    • Credit History Checks

    The Council may need to assess how stable the people they hire are by evaluating their credit and financial history. Employees with poor credit history may pose liabilities, especially when it comes to finance-related positions.

    The Council may be sceptical about hiring a person with some history in any of these;

    • Loan defaulting and absconding,
    • Proceedings on Bankruptcy and debts,
    • Poor and irregular mortgage payments,
    • Outstanding loans and credits,
    • Poor finance management.

    Depending on the inherent requirements of the role, the Council may need to request a credit report or its equivalent to evaluate the candidate's credit history.

    How should the council assess Employment Checks?

    As good practice, Councils should have written policies on how employment background checks will be assessed.

    The policies should consider how the organisation will handle background check information in accordance with Australian privacy principles and how results will be interpreted and assessed in accordance with the inherent requirements of the job role.

    The ICAC as a monitoring and regulating agency

    The Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) in the various Australian States and Territories works to prevent all misdemeanours and abuse of privilege. The commission maintains a merit principle as the basis for any form of recruitment or accreditation in Australia. The commission ensures that;

    • ✔ The eligible candidates all have a fair and equal opportunity to get the role or the job.
    • ✔ The primary factors and elements in the selection should be the candidate's ability to do the work. There should be no assessment of the candidate unrelated to the role or the job; for example, assessing a prospective driver on their "qualifications as accountants."
    • ✔ Ensures that only the cream of the top are selected for the role, especially where it involves a lot of technicalities. It means the open positions in the councils must be filled by people with high qualifications and skills.

    What should the Council consider when handling Employment Checks?

    Undoubtedly, employment checks are an excellent way for the councils or other employers to evaluate their candidates; there are still many factors that can help them assess candidates;


    • ✔ Assess all applications individually

    There is always the temptation to assess the various background checks in bulk based on their similarities. This way, you deny many applicants the chance to explain or prove their background checks or the details in them.

    Assessing the background checks in groups means you lose a lot of quality people based on some twisted groupings. As a recruiter, it is beneficial to shun all temptations and look at the applications individually.


    • ✔ The relevance of the details to the roles

    It may count as discrimination to evaluate a person by criteria or records that have little or no correlation to the role they are applying for.

    There should be a clear relevance between the role the candidate seeks and the compromising details. For example, prospective drivers should mainly be assessed on their driving ability, traffic records, traffic offences, work history with employers. However, it may be disingenuous to evaluate a driver on their "Financial Risk ability" if they have nothing to do with a finance related or money handling role.


    • ✔ Other factors that relevant in the background check

    There are certain extenuating factors to the background check that can place the candidate in favour. For example, if the court has issued a good behaviour bond instead of sentencing, it can count as an extenuating factor for the candidate.

    Best practices for recruiters against corruption in the Employment Check evaluation

    There may be the possibility of selfish people or groups in the organisation/council hijacking the assessment process to favour themselves indirectly.

    There are many precautions and options for recruiters to prevent people in position from jeopardising the recruitment process. Some of them include;


    • ✔ Favouring a long term extended recruitment process

    It is easier to manipulate a short-term replacement process than an extended and rigorous process. Of course, with the extension of the recruitment phase, it becomes easier with higher chances of employing a person based on competition and merit.


    • ✔ Allow job advertisements to run early and deep enough

    It is easier to influence the recruitment if the advertisement time frame is limited and within short periods. Allowing the advertisements to run earlier and last longer increases the chances of more quality and top candidates for the job.


    • ✔ Non-skewed selection criteria

    Ensure that the selection criteria are not written or drafted to favour anyone or a particular group. For example, it is an act of discrimination to put certain conditions that will hinder certain groups, members, or classes.

    For example, having a condition that will limit the participation of women or single mothers or any other group may count as discrimination for any role.


    • ✔ Non-biased appointments of panel/evaluating members

    Ensure that members or panel judges have no relationship, interest or connections to the candidates or the roles to prevent bias. The appointment of recruiters should not be a mere formality but should undergo its form of "checking".

    Ideally, the selection panels should be independent of the organisation or people with interest in the organisation.

    Record keeping for Recruiters in the Employment

    Regardless of the candidate's assessment outcome, the recruiters should keep a record of all results for future references.

    Maintaining records of assessment outcomes helps as a reference for further enquiry. It also provides more details of the candidate if there is a future need to refer to past enquiry about the applicant.

    To properly do good record keeping, it should extend to;

    • ✔ Why the unsuccessful candidates are considered unsuitable for the role;
    • ✔ Taking notes and recording the referee Checks;
    • ✔ Noting all parts of the employment Checks, the candidate includes in their application.

    Can recruiters refuse a candidate a role based on their employment Check?

    Yes, recruiters can refuse an applicant their role or position if their employment Check widely varies from your expectation. Also, the organisation's internal policies can provide guidance or support in how they handle the candidate's result.

    How can I obtain a national criminal history check?

    Individuals

    If you are an individual, you can obtain a national criminal record check certificate online via Australian National Character Check’s police check application and informed consent form. The results are dispatched via email.

    Business and Enterprise Customers

    Business and Enterprise customers are able to sign up to ANCC’s business portal where they can order, manage, track and view candidates’ criminal history check results on their business portal. Organisations will undergo a process for approval prior to being granted access to ANCC’s business portal.

    ANCC sends an invite to the applicant to complete their criminal record check online and handles the application and informed consent form. Contact ANCC’s business and enterprise partnerships team today to enquire about setting up a business portal for your organisation.

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